Kickers just don’t win awards like NFL Rookie of the Year, especially not in 2012. While Blair Walsh will be lucky to be in the top five of the ROY voting, his remarkable rookie season shouldn’t go without notice.
Believe it or not, Walsh leads all rookies with 117 points scored on the season.
In addition to his stats against other rookies, he’s also right there with any other kicker in the league in terms of production. He’s fourth in the league with 47 touchbacks, third with 29 field goals made out of 32 attempts and is currently tied for an NFL record with eight 50-plus yard field goals made. He’s also not missed an attempt from 50-plus.
Last week against the St. Louis Rams, Walsh had one of the better games in league history, making three field goals from 50-plus while also connecting on two other attempts.
He has been a big part of the Minnesota Vikings resurgence this season, even after some doubted that he was ready for the job. The Vikings released long-time kicker Ryan Longwell over the summer and basically handed the job to Walsh with nothing but a gut feeling about the rookie from Georgia.
It’s even crazier when you consider his senior season, in which he only made 21 of 35 field goal attempts.
Nevertheless, general manager Rick Spielman saw something he liked in Walsh and took him in the sixth round of last April’s draft.
The move was worth it in the increased number of touchbacks alone. In 2011 Longwell only had 19, so you can imagine what a difference it’s made in the opponent’s average starting field position with Walsh kicking off. In today’s game, you need a kicker who’s got the leg to create touchback on every kickoff and Walsh is definitely that guy.
So with ROY likely going to one of three star quaterbacks, Walsh is left with the hope of being voted into the Pro Bowl. It’s an honor that he no doubt deserves, as he’s established himself as not only the best rookie kicker (and there are some good ones), but already as one of the best legs in the game.
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