Saturday, April 7, 2012

Will Vikes Draft a Kicker?

It appears the Vikings are showing genuine interest in Missouri Western kicker Greg Zuerlein.  Previously having had a private workout with the Vikes, Zuerlein visited with them again at Winter Park last Tuesday. Considering each NFL team is permitted but 30 visits by draft-eligible prospects, it would be a stretch to assume that the Vikings would burn one on a kicker if they had no interest in him -- kickers generally are not the subject of smokescreens

Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell will be 38 years-young in August and is coming off a down season last year having converted only 78.6 percent of his field goals -- his worst season percentage since his last year with the Packers in 2005.  Likewise, even with kickoffs being moved up to the 35-yard line last year in an effort to limit injuries, Longwell still struggled to take advantage of the rule-change thus limiting opponent kick-returns.  He ranked 29th in the league in touchbacks in 2011 at a meager 24.36% while only 25% at home kicking indoors. Longwell is but one season into a four-year, $12 million contract which he was extended last July, and is scheduled to make $1.2 million next season -- hardly breaking the bank for a proven veteran kicker.  Regardless, for a rebuilding team looking to infuse the roster with younger players, the Vikings cannot afford to neglect evaluating a kicker of  Zuerlein's ability. 

Zuerlein began his collegiate career at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and was a two-time All-MIAA Conference kicker who led the country in touchbacks.  After taking a medical red-shirt in 2010 following hip surgery -- and after the NCAA turned down his appeal to kick at a Division I school -- Zuerlein transferred to Missouri Western when UNO pulled the plug on its 99 year-old football program due to budget shortages. In 2011, Zuerlein led the nation in field goals per game (2.30) and broke a NCAA and MIAA record with 21 consecutive field goals while also setting an NCAA record going 9-for-9 in field goals from 50-plus yards, including two 58-yard field goals. Impressive indeed for someone not being a mule named Gus.

With additional compensatory picks granted to them at the end of the fourth-round, the Vikings may now be in good position to use a late-round selection on a talented young kicker.  Even if they intend to use Longwell next season, the Vikings need to do a better job planning ahead and not waiting until there is a roster void before targeting positions.


  1. They shouldn't wste a pick on a freaking kicker. They have to many other needs that need to be addressed and even using picks later in the draft is still better than none at all. Brady, Welker, and Colston were guys that were all got in the late rounds which goes to show you that you never know unless you try.

    1. They need to look at every position as a possible upgrade, that's how you improve! Longwell can't even get the ball to the 20 on kickoffs and when you play Hester twice a year you could be looking at Longwell's kickoffs making a difference in winning or not right there. If Zurlein is available in say the 6th round they nedd to get him!