It appears that Chris Kluwe’s time in the Twin Cities is nearing its end.
It was speculated that the Vikings would look to add some competition for starting punter Kluwe this offseason after Minnesota worked out several young prospects throughout the pre-draft process. Locke was one of those punters who met with Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer leading up to April 25.
Locke, a strong-legged left footer, has the potential to outwork Kluwe, another UCLA alumnus, for the Vikings’ starting gig. Throughout his college career, Locke was the epitome of consistency, averaging 44.2 yards per punter during his four seasons as a starter. Each year, his number of punts inside the 20 increased, which shows that he’s constantly getting better.
Also a kickoff specialist, Locke stands a good chance of inheriting kickoff duties from second-year kicker Blair Walsh. The former Bruin led the nation in kickoff touchback percentage (77%) in 2012, so there’s hope that he can consistently put it through the endzone in the NFL.
Heading into the NFL, Locke is an extremely well-rounded punter who should find himself starting before too long. He’ll have to grow accustomed to punting in poor weather situations such as Green Bay or Chicago after spending his college career enjoying the West Coast climate. As long as he can continue to work on his directional kicking and getting more elevation on his boots, there’s plenty to be excited about with this young punter.
It’s unfortunate that the Kluwe era appears to be over, but the Vikings did a great job in finding his potential replacement. Look for Locke to lock down the starting job soon.