Saturday, March 28, 2015
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blair walsh

Last year, the Jaguars shocked everyone by selecting a punter in the third round of the NFL Draft instead of using the pick to try and find solutions for any one of their other pressing needs.  No punter had been drafted that high in over 15 years.

As a rookie, Bryan Anger was a top ten punter with an average of 47.8 yards per punt.  He had a net average of 40.8 yards per punt.  He landed an impressive 31 punts, of his 91 total, inside the opponent’s 20 yard line.  The product out of Cal may always cause Jaguar fans to twitch, since they ignored quarterback Russell Wilson while selecting him, but he certainly had a high quality rookie season.

Louisiana Tech’s punter Ryan Allen is even better.

The senior beat out Anger and others for the Ray Guy Award in 2011 and continued his dominating college career in 2012.  Last year he averaged 48 yards per punt and put on an absolute show at the Senior Bowl with a 52.4 yard average on five attempts.  Allen led the nation with a net average of 43.5 yards and placed 44% of his punts inside the 20 yard line.  He earned an All-American First Team nod for his season-long proficiency at his position, and also became the first punter ever to win the Ray Guy Award in back-to-back seasons.

So, with Chris Kluwe already on the roster, why I am listing Allen as potential target for the Vikings?

For starters, Kluwe’s value and standing has arguably taken a hit in recent seasons due to an increase of inconsistencies, as well as an increase in salary.  Off the field, Kluwe’s ventures have soured some of the fan base, and even his special teams coach has made comments suggesting that Kluwe’s antics can be exhausting.

Kluwe is now 31 years old, coming off of a surgery to repair his left meniscus, is entering the final year of his career, and is scheduled to make $1.4 million in 2013.  If the Vikings can find a way to upgrade at any position, even punter, while also saving money then they should not hesitate.

I am not saying the Vikings should use a third rounder on Allen, by any means, but I am saying that this is a kid they should keep a close eye on as day three of the Draft progresses.  After all, it was just last year that the Vikings sent a decorated veteran packing after selecting rookie kicker Blair Walsh, and it couldn’t have worked out better.

Punters are people, too!

(But, they are punters, so don’t expect a highlight reel to show up here like we would have for virtually any other player of any other position in the game of football.  Sorry.)

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Adrian Peterson, Jerome Felton, Kyle Rudolph, Blair Walsh, Jared Allen, Chad Greenway, and Matt Kalil are all playing in a football game tonight.

Sure, the Pro Bowl means about as much as an rerun of The Office, but with seven Vikings seeing televised action for the last time between now and the preseason it is hard not to watch and cheer.

We’ll be watching live and if you are too, then feel free to discuss the “action” right here below this post.

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Adrian Peterson, Jerome Felton, Kyle Rudolph, Blair Walsh, Jared Allen, Chad Greenway, and now Matt Kalil.

Those are the guys that will represent Minnesota during Sunday’s Pro Bowl.

Due to a mysterious fight that resulted in Washington left tackle Trent Williams having to get stitches, Kalil has been selected to replace Williams in the NFC’s lineup for the scrimmage.

The fact that the Vikings have seven guys playing in the Pro Bowl, and that two of them are rookies, is a very encouraging sign for the future of this young playoff team.

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One of the, umm, “benefits” of not playing in the Super Bowl is that you might just qualify for a free trip to Hawaii to play in the season’s most meaningless football game.

The Vikings will be well represented during Sunday’s Pro Bowl.  We have already noted that Adrian Peterson, Jerome Felton, Jared Allen, and Chad Greenway will be playing.

Another alternate has made the final cut, however.  Tight end Tony Gonzalez played a hard fought game, possibly his last ever, on Sunday and will not be filling his roster spot on the NFC’s all-star squad in Honolulu.

Instead, alternate Kyle Rudolph will be suiting up.

The second-year tight end recorded 53 catches for 493 yards in his second season, doubling the number of catches from his rookie season.  He was also second among NFL tight ends with nine touchdowns, tripling his total from last year.

While the Vikings made an unexpected run at the playoffs I embarked on a quest to provide grades to each of Rick Spielman’s offseason moves to help us understand what happened, how it worked out, and what we might have to look forward to this coming offseason.

The part about free agency can be found by clicking here.  Meanwhile, you can click here to see my grades for the first picks of the 2012 Draft.  Now, we move into the lower half of the 2012 Draft to see exactly how things played out.

4.39 Greg Childs, WR:  The Vikings wanted to pair up Childs with fellow Arkansas teammate Jarius Wright, hoping to jump start their passing game by infusing some youthful talent.  Unfortunately, that strategy got derailed when Childs suffered a freak injury during the preseason.  He tore both of his patellar tendons in one shot and his rookie season was over before it began.

Injuries caused Childs to fall to the fourth round which has some critics pointing out that you cannot expect much more when you take a guy with red flags about his health.  No NFL player has ever returned from this injury, but Childs remains devoted to his rehabilitation and sounds very confident that he will.

The Vikings got no production out of this selection in 2012 after an impressive training camp, but there may still be some hope for the future.

GRADE:  C

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