Kicker Daniel Carlson
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Co.
Drafted: 167th overall, as the most valuable draft pick spent on a kicker in Vikings franchise history.
Current jersey: No. 7
What we’ve learned
The Seahawks had picked three times. The Giants, Bengals and Vikings had also made picks as the fifth round came to a close. Teams that worked out Daniel Carlson this spring had gone elsewhere before the Vikings traded up for the kicker. “The fifth round kind of went away and then it was a big surprise when they traded up,” Carlson said. ‘Legatron,’ as he’s referenced on Auburn’s social media, was the first kicker drafted this year after clearing uprights on all 15 field goals in a private workout with Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer.
The Vikings drafted a big leg who is the SEC’s all-time leading scorer coming off a down senior season. Sound familiar? Carlson took Blair Walsh’s record by leading the SEC with 480 points. He also owns the SEC record for most field goals (92) and consecutive extra points (198). While Carlson’s accuracy dipped last fall to 74 percent, including three blocked, his range is intriguing. “I made quite a few kicks from 50-plus yards over the years. During private workouts, we’ve backed it up to 65 yards and made those. Kicking in Colorado, which is where I’ve been for the draft the last few days, I was hitting from 75 yards.”
Changing family tide
It’s in the family for Carlson, the middle of three brothers. The youngest, Anders, followed in Daniel’s footsteps and will take his place as Auburn’s kicker next fall. The only problem is the Carlson boys were raised devout fans of the Crimson Tide, according to this story by AL.com’s Joseph Goodman. Their mother, father and a set of grandparents attended or worked at Alabama. The family dog is named ‘Bama.’ “Just super excited for me and my family,” Carlson said after being drafted. “Just kind of taking it all in at this point.”
What we’re watching for
The Vikings say it’s a competition for the starting kicker job between Carlson and incumbent Kai Forbath, who re-signed for no guaranteed money on a one-year, veteran minimum deal. Forbath was tied for fourth in 50-yard field goals (six) last year, but overall he made 84.2 percent to rank 16th in the league. Carlson’s draft spot makes him the inherent leader for the job.
Those special teams drills in the August heat at the end of two-hour camp practices, when observing fans and media wane, are being watched by starters. Teammates will be waiting to see what the rookie can do. “Right now it’s all about competing, handling pressure in front of the team,” Carlson said, “Kind of gaining their trust. Just proving to coaches and my teammates that I’m ready and they can rely on me when the moment is big.”