Don’t Rule out Rookie Kicker for Vikings

Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs kicker Jack Podlesny (96) against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings 2023 kicker job likely belongs to the incumbent Greg Joseph, but folks said the same thing about veteran punter last year before Ryan Wright snatched the gig.

There’s an outside chance a rookie kicker could follow suit in 2023.

Don’t Rule out Rookie Kicker for Vikings

And that’s Jack Podlesny, an undrafted free agent found by the Vikings shortly after the 2023 NFL Draft.

out Rookie Kicker
Georgia placekicker Jack Podlesny (96) watches his field goal fly through the uprights during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Missouri and Georgia in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Georgia won 43-6. © Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Because Podlesny didn’t showcase a ‘big leg’ in college, most Vikings fans expect Joseph to retain kicking duties in Minnesota. But at mandatory minicamp last week, Podlesny began to change the narrative about his leg strength. senior editor Craig Peters described an event for Podlesny last Wednesday, “All eyes shifted to undrafted rookie Jack Podlesny for the final team snap of the offseason program. O’Connell had the kicker line up for a 55-yard field goal and instructed teammates to make noise and close in on the former Georgia kicker and simulate a high-pressure situation.”

Georgia place kicker Jack Podlesny (96) watches as his kick flies through the uprights for a field goal during the second half of an NCAA college football game between Georgia Tech and Georgia in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. Georgia won 37-14. © Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Podlesny led the NCAA in scoring last year with 151 points, so he has the ‘volume guy’ attribute on his resume. He also connected on 83.9% of field goal attempts, the third-best mark in the country. The man is accurate.

Peters continued, “With a wave of white and purple practice jerseys encircling him, Podlesny made the kick. He and returning veteran kicker Greg Joseph turned in solid showings during the 11-on-11 periods at open practices, positioning them for a strong competition at training camp.”

Sep 10, 2022; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs place kicker Jack Podlesny (96) kicks a field goal from the hold of quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) against the Samford Bulldogs during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

And if you’re ‘Team Podlesny,’ this is a positive development. If the man can hit from 55 yards out, there’s really no reason he can’t seize the kicking job. His teammate and competition, Joseph, was somewhat solid in 2022, drilling five game-winning field goals and helping the Vikings win the NFC North for the first time since 2017. But Joseph struggled with extra points and non-game-winning field goals — an oddity, to be sure.’s Lance Zierlein summarized Podlesny’s skillset leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft, “Podlesny has kicked in some big games, but he missed two attempts in a narrow victory over Ohio State during last season’s playoff semifinal. He also has a poor success rate on kicks from distance. Consistency and power are key, and Podlesny falls a little short in those areas.”

Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia place kicker Jack Podlesny (PK07) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

In the NCAA, extra points are still ‘automatic’ from 20 yards away, and the Bulldog had no problems in that area. If he did, he wouldn’t be on the Vikings current roster. But on his strengths, Podlesny has big-game kicking experience — because that’s what one does at the University of Georgia. He kicked at Georgia for three years, tabulating a 61 for 74 (82.9%) success rate on field goals and hitting 182 of 184 extra points. 

Last year, Minnesota also signed an undrafted kicker, Gabe Brkic, and Podlesny has already outlasted Brkic’s short tenure.

Monitor Podlesny at training camp in July. Should the big kicks continue, his resume already suggests he can handle everything else.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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