The Minnesota Vikings had several clear needs coming into the 2013 NFL Draft, punter was not one of them. But regardless, Minnesota made a surprising pick in round five when they took UCLA punter Jeff Locke. He’s a left-footed punter, who also doubles as a kickoff specialist. During his time in college, he averaged over 44 yards per punt, while starting in 53 games.
I think the move to get Locke is two-fold. First of all, it could mean the end of Chris Kluwe‘s tenure in Minnesota. The outspoken punter has made headlines over the last year, but not for his play on the football field. In reality, while Kluwe is a really entertaining player, he’s just average at his job. At the same time, you wonder if the Vikings are concerned he could become a distraction.
The second part of this selection, could be to help preserve Blair Walsh‘s leg. After a phenomenal rookie year, the Vikings need to protect Walsh any way they can, and hope he turns into a Jason Hanson-type. One easy way to do that, would be to relieve him of his kickoff duties. With Locke having a strong enough leg to find the back of the end zone more often than not, why not let him handle the kickoffs?
Of course, this is all just speculation, and barring that Locke is the real deal. But the Vikings took him in the fifth round for a reason. They see potential in this guy, and who knows, maybe he and Walsh can form one of the best young kicking duos in the game next year? At the same time, Kluwe’s days in Minnesota could be numbered.
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