Note: Until the 2017 NFL draft starts April 27, we’ll take a look at where things stand at each Vikings position group. We’ll combine some in order to address as many as possible. Check for a new post each weekday.
After sticking by Blair Walsh through inconsistency, the Vikings won’t be relying on just one kicker or punter heading into this season.
Kai Forbath, who replaced Walsh in the middle of last season, hasn’t yet locked down the job after converting all 15 field goal attempts in seven games for the Vikings. Forbath did miss three extra points, including one blocked, while following up Walsh’s four one-point misses last season.
He’ll compete with kicker Marshall Koehn, whom the Vikings signed this offseason after a tryout last fall. He made 16 of 20 field goal attempts during his 2015 senior season at Iowa. Koehn’s longest make came from 57 yards away.
After losing punter Jeff Locke to the Colts, the Vikings brought in veteran Ryan Quigley to compete with Taylor Symmank. Quigley, 27, is a reclamation project having posted a career-low average (41.6 yards) in six games for the Cardinals last season. The Vikings are Quigley’s seventh team in six NFL seasons.
Long snapper Kevin McDermott will be unchallenged after signing a four-year contract extension last summer.
Projected starters: Kicker Kai Forbath, punter Ryan Quigley and long snapper Kevin McDermott
Don’t forget about: The need at kick returner. The Vikings have two untested specialists, Symmank and Koehn, to stir competition at both punter and kicker. You’d have to look harder to find candidates to replace All-Pro kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. Punt returner Marcus Sherels hasn’t held the job since 2012, so the Vikings should be seeking that skill from a player in next week’s draft.
Level of need: Moderate at punter. Low at kicker.
Five prospects to remember: Worth Gregory, P, East Carolina; Justin Vogel, P, Miami; Cameron Johnston, P, Ohio State; Zane Gonzalez, K, Arizona State; Jake Elliott, K, Memphis
Our best guess: The Vikings may add a late-round pick or undrafted free agent at kicker or punter, but both positions already have competitions established. Drafting a receiver or running back with college experience as a kick returner is a likely possibility.