The Minnesota Vikings cut veteran Ryan Longwell today, paving the way for 6th-round pick Blair Walsh to take over as the starting kicker.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise based on the fact that you don’t typically draft kickers without a plan to immediately make them the starter. But given Longwell’s track record and Walsh’s lack of one, it’s a questionable move.
Entering his senior year, Walsh looked like an elite prospect and was potentially on track to become the first kicker selected within the first three rounds since Mike Nugent in 2005. But Walsh crumbled under pressure as a senior, connecting on just 21 of 35 field goal attempts.
Walsh stood out for his impressive accuracy and range, connecting on 17 of 20 kicks from beyond 40 yards in his sophomore and junior years. But in 2011, Walsh made just 7 of 17 kicks beyond 40. Walsh also missed four kicks from under 40 yards, twice as many as he had missed during the previous two years combined.
Clearly he has the talent, but how will he handle the pressure of the NFL? That’s something the Vikings probably should have figured out before cutting ties with Longwell.