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Vikings Select Kicker Blair Walsh; Could Ryan Longwell Be Released?

TMAPA, FL - JANUARY 02: Kicker Blair Wlash #57 of the Georgia Bulldogs converts a field goal against the Michigan State Spartans in the Outback Bowl January 2, 2012 at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Florida. Walsh set the all-time SEC scoring record in the game. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Tanner ThomsSenior Analyst IApril 28, 2012

Ladies and gentleman, we have found the future replacement for Ryan Longwell. Blair Walsh, who was considered one of the best kickers in the draft, is now a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

Ryan Longwell, who turns 38 in August, will now be on the roster bubble. Longwell connected on 78 percent of his kicks in 2011—five percent less than he has averaged over his entire career.

It's clear that Longwell doesn't have the leg power or accuracy that he once had, and now there's a good chance he may be out of a job. If so, Longwell may simply retire.

Considered the top prospect at his position, according to CBSsports.com, the Vikings may have gotten themselves quite the steal here.

Despite only connecting on 21-35 field goals for the Bulldogs in 2011, scouts were very high on Walsh's abilities.

Walsh, 22, goes 5'10", 190 pounds, but height and weight is basically irrelevant when it comes to a kicker. As long as he can get the ball through the uprights, the Vikings wouldn't care if he was 4'5".

While this is a surprising pick to some, it was a move I expected them to make. At some point Minnesota needed to find the right replacement for Longwell, and it appears as though they have done that with Walsh.

In 2009, as a sophomore, Walsh nailed 20-22 field goals and didn't miss a single extra point out of 42 tries.

He followed that up in 2010 by connecting on 20-23 kicks, but he did miss one extra point attempt in 47 tries.

I'm not sure why Walsh struggled so badly in 2011, but judging by his sophomore and junior seasons, there's no reason why he shouldn't be a sixth round pick.

If the Vikings decide to keep Ryan Longwell on the roster, Minnesota will do all it can to keep Walsh on the practice squad.

It's highly unlikely that Minnesota would carry both kickers on the roster.

This isn't a sexy pick by any stretch, but the Vikings have gotten a great kicker at perfect value, and I can't complain about that.

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