Don’t Forget the Kicker Battle

out Rookie Kicker
Georgia placekicker Jack Podlesny (96) watches his field goal fly through the up rights during the first half of a 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.

Minnesota Vikings training camp launches in 18 days, and many camp battles will be front and center because so many veterans departed in the last four months.

Don’t Forget the Kicker Battle

Cameron Dantzler (CB, Bills), Eric Kendricks (LB, Chargers), Patrick Peterson (CB, Steelers), Adam Thielen (WR, Panthers), Dalvin Tomlinson (DT, Browns), Duke Shelley (CB, Raiders), Irv Smith (TE, Bengals), Kris Boyd (CB, Cardinals), Chandon Sullivan (CB, Steelers), Za’Darius Smith (OLB, Browns — Trade), and Dalvin Cook (RB, Free Agent) all left the organization.

Indeed, the Vikings are amid an era of change, described as a ‘competitive rebuild’ by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. And one area of the roster to remember is kicker. The position will be decided in July and August, featuring a showdown between the incumbent Greg Joseph and rookie Jack Podlesny.

Here’s what to know about that battle.

Why Joseph Will Win

Forget the Kicker
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) celebrates the win after the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings finally found a clutch kicker and should not let him go — that’s the theory held by many Vikings loyalists regarding Joseph. And to a degree, they’re not wrong.

Joseph drilled five game-winning field goals in 2022, and that cold-blooded swagger doesn’t grow on trees. Blair Walsh will tell you all about it. In fact, after Joseph mind-bogglingly missed a game-winning field goal in 2021 at the Arizona Cardinals, he hasn’t let Minnesota down in a crucial late-game situation. That’s invaluable.

However, these are Joseph’s unmentionables:

Greg Joseph,
NFL Rankings,
in 2022:

Game-Winning Field Goals = 1st
FG Conv % = 28th
Extra Point Conv % = 31st

Joseph may be ‘worth it’ if only to retain the clutch, end-of-game kicking. But the long-term objective should be finding a kicker who can excel at all times — not just with two minutes left.

Why Podlesny Will Win

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.

This man kicked for Georgia, a team that routinely plays in high-stakes games. One must have a sturdy spine to stay the Bulldog kicker.

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.

His leg strength, though, might be a little suspect, and if he doesn’t oust Joseph this summer, fans can attribute the result to it.’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.”

Also, senior editor Craig Peters explained Podlesny’s theatrics at minicamp, “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.”

If Podlesny can show off some semblance of a big leg, he can absolutely win the Vikings kicker job.

Remember Last Summer

for giants at vikings
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings punter Ryan Wright (14) during the first half of the NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

Finally, it’s easy to say, “Well, Joseph made kicks when it mattered, so he’ll win the job.”

But that’s what we thought about punter Jordan Berry last summer. Nobody anywhere had heard of Ryan Wright, so folks summarily wrote him off. Berry was supposed to win the job. He didn’t.

The new Vikings brand of leadership set a precedent about 11 months ago of going with ‘their guy.’ It could happen again. And if you don’t believe it, watch some Ryan Wright highlights on YouTube. Minnesota made the right decision.

Don’t rule out Podlesny just because you’re not familiar with him.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by