Vikings’ Inaction Points Toward Targeting a Specific Position in 2024 NFL Draft

Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph (1) misses a field goal to win the game in regulation at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams add talent in two main ways: free agency and the draft. Yes, there are trades and then there’s the blending of the two acquisition avenues in undrafted free agency, but the statement still stands. A team gets most of their players from either free agency or the draft.

Does it follow, then, that the Vikings’ inaction at a certain position in free agency necessitates a specific approach in the 2024 NFL Draft?

No, I’m not talking about quarterback.

Instead, it’s an overlooked position that can still be pressure-packed: kicker. So far, the team has added John Parker Romo, someone who inspires intrigue but who played in the XFL last season. And then Greg Joseph is hopping across the border to compete for the K1 spot in Green Bay. Do the Vikings sink one of their nine selections into a kicker?

The Vikings’ Inaction at Kicker Points Toward a Draft Solution

Mel Kiper, Jordan Reid, and Matt Miller are leading draft analysts at ESPN and, indeed, within NFL media more broadly. Recently, each one offered a prospect hierarchy that featured a ranking of this year’s best kickers (Kiper, Reid, & Miller).

mel kiper
Apr 28, 2011; New York, NY, USA; ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

And while the prospect evaluators differ in the precise ordering, there is consensus about the top trio of kickers going into the 2024 NFL Draft:

  1. Joshua Karty
  2. Cam Little
  3. Will Reichard

Any chance Minnesota opts to sink one of their Day 3 selections — currently, they’re the proud owner of seven Day 3 selections — into an upside kicker? Surely, they’re going to add competition for Romo at some point. Bringing in an UDFA would make sense but that’s an approach that flopped last offseason with the addition of Jack Podlesny.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders
Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell (left) and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah react during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, the San Francisco 49ers made the bold decision to invest a 3rd into Jake Moody. Seldom does a kicker crack the top 100, but that’s what happened when the 99th pick was used on the former Michigan specialist.

Moody’s rookie season involved going 21/25 on his field goals while nailing 60/61 extra points. In the playoffs, Moody hit 6/8 of his field goals while going 8/9 on extra points. So, room for improvement.

Sep 10, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; San Francisco 49ers place kicker Jake Moody (4) kicks a field goal during the first half at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

And then Vikings fans will remember Daniel Carlson, the 167th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. His time in Minnesota was short — just a couple of games — but he’s now a 7-year veteran who has been a first-team All Pro once and a second-team All Pro once. A bit of patience would have been helpful with Mr. Carlson. For his career, Carlson has completed 88.0% of his FGs and 96.2% of his XPs.

Currently, the Vikings own No. 11, No. 23, and then … No. 108. The chasm between picks is massive, a problem that will grow worse if the opening pair of picks get packaged in a trade to jump to the very top of the draft.

For the most part, players picked from the 4th onward are unlikely to develop into starters as rookies. A specialist, though, may have an easier path toward snagging a top spot. Consider the statistics for the kickers named above:

PlayerField Goals (2023)Extra Points (2023)
Karty, Joshua23/27 (85.2%)21/21 (100%)
Little, Cam20/24 (83.3%)33/33 (100%)
Reichard, Will22/25 (88%)55/55 (100%)
Syndication: Tuscaloosa News
Mar 20, 2024; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama kicker Will Reichard kicks at the Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Facility during the University of Alabama’s Pro Day. Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA TODAY NETWORK

Note: college extra points don’t have the same distance as in the NFL, so seeing the perfect percentage across the board isn’t the same thing as perfection at the professional level.

And then there’s the need to contextualize the misses. Obviously, every coach wants to employ a kicker who makes more than he misses and yet there’s a need for nuance. Missing from 52 while it’s windy and raining is different than missing from 37 inside of a dome. Similarly, missing with three seconds on the clock is different than missing three minutes into a game.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Lions place kicker John Parker Romo (24) watches practice during OTAs at Detroit Lions headquarters in Allen Park on Thursday, June 1, 2023.

The Vikings’ offense isn’t likely to be at the top of the NFL 2024. Embracing change at QB means that Kevin O’Connell’s side of the ball may face some turbulence, especially in the early moments of the season.

Leaning on the defense and special teams to rise to excellence would seem to make sense. Under the leadership of Brian Flores and with improved personnel, the Vikings’ defense seems likely to improve. And while he has done plenty of good things across his pair of seasons, Matt Daniels needs another contender to create an offseason kicking competition.

Keep an eye on college football’s most promising kickers once Day 3 of the 2024 NFL Draft arrives.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Sports Reference CFB helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.