Saturday, April 28, 2012
Look out, Ryan Longwell
By Kevin Seifert
Decisions in the sixth round don't usually have much immediate impact on prominent veterans, but this one is worth noting: The Minnesota Vikings drafted Georgia place-kicker Blair Walsh with the fifth pick of the round and No. 175 overall.
Traditionally, teams don't draft placekickers unless they're ready to make a change or at least seriously consider an alternative to the incumbent. Veteran Ryan Longwell received a $3.5 million signing bonus last summer, suggesting the Vikings were committed to him for several years, but Longwell missed more field goals -- six -- than he did in the previous two seasons combined. He'll turn 38 in August.
It makes sense to begin a succession plan for an aging veteran, but most teams don't keep a backup place-kicker and kickoff specialists are less valuable than ever given changes to kickoff rules. Some of you have suggested that the Vikings' extra picks this season makes it easier to take a flyer here, but to me it's a wasted pick unless you're at least considering a change. So to me, no matter how the Vikings might spin this move, you would think that Longwell is on notice for 2012.