Yet arguably no other player in the Vikings’ 2012 draft class was more important to last season’s playoff surge. Walsh’s rookie synopsis: A perfect 10-for-10 on field goals from 50 yards or longer. Two game-winners. Fifty-three touchbacks on 86 kickoffs. All-Pro honors.
“Not even we could have foreseen all that,” Studwell said. “We obviously had our reservations. But we could also see his talent. So I guess I’d call it an educated guess.”
With a fortuitous twist.
Leading to the draft, the Vikings talked extensively about finding an upgrade over Longwell. But they only wound up with Walsh after the two other kickers in their sights — Texas A&M’s Randy Bullock and Missouri Western State’s Greg Zuerlein — came off the board at picks 161 and 171 respectively.
The Vikings never had to unveil their choice on which kicker they liked most, holding their breath until Walsh was officially theirs at pick 175.
And the rookie exploded onto the scene, kicking his way to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl after helping the Vikings to the playoffs.
Walsh proved to be another sparkling draft gem in an April 2012 weekend full of them.
Said Studwell: “The whole draft just flowed well. It felt right. We did a great job of evaluating and then moving around to maximize that. And we wound up with a class that everyone felt terrific about.”
Those feelings, it is hoped, will last until the three-year evaluation milestone and beyond.