Can Will Reichard Slay The Vikings Kicker Curse?

Nov 11, 2023; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide place kicker Will Reichard (16) celebrates with Alabama Crimson Tide running back Jam Miller (26) during the first quarter against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Just the term “kicker” is enough to send chills through any Vikings fan’s body.

Vikings kickers are a long and cautionary tale about why trust is earned and not given, and like every other year it seems, Minnesota is taking another shot at bringing the age-old curse to an end.

Will Reichard – The Third Attempt At An SEC Kicker

Will Reichard
Jan 1, 2024; Pasadena, CA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide place kicker Will Reichard (16) reacts after a field goal against the Michigan Wolverines during the first half in the 2024 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Will Reichard, whom Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has compared to the “Joker”, kicked for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 2019 to 2023, amassing the most points scored by any player in college football history with 547 points by way of 84 field goals and 295 extra point conversions. Alongside his scoring record, his legendary college career saw him win a National Championship in 2020, as well as a First Team All-SEC honor and SEC Special Teams Player of the Year in 2023. Reichard would also garner two Second Team All-American honors in 2020 and 2023, as well and Second Team All-SEC in 2022.

With all of this taken into account, it seems plenty fair to say that Will Reichard is the best collegiate place-kicker in football history. Vikings fans would be completely justified in thinking that he would magically forget how to kick a football, given all of the pain and borderline torture that they’ve been through at the position in recent years.

However, Will Reichard is the third SEC kicker that the Vikings have drafted in recent history. What happened to other two?

SPOILER: they didn’t work out.

Blair Walsh – The First Attempt At An SEC Kicker

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks
Nov 20, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks kicker Blair Walsh (7) and long snapper Tyler Ott (69) react after a missed field goal attempt against the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone remembers Blair Walsh. How could you not? From seeing one of the best seasons a rookie kicker has ever had to an all-time downfall.

Walsh played college ball for the Georgia Bulldogs, going 184 of 185 (99.5%) on extra point attempts and just 76 of 103 (73.7%) on field goal attempts. Minnesota selected him with the fifth pick of the sixth round in the 2012 NFL Draft (the same draft where the Baltimore Ravens signed future Hall of Fame kicker Justin Tucker went undrafted), and he immediately saw success. According to Statmuse, Walsh went 36 of 36 on extra point attempts and 35 of 38 (92.1%) on field goal attempts, earning him a Pro Bowl honor in his rookie year.

He continued his elite production through 2013, hitting a snag in 2014 where he kicked just 74.3% on field goal attempts, however going perfect on extra point attempts. 2015 was a step in the right direction, going 87.2% on FGA’s and 89.2% on XPA’s. That season was all fine and good, until it happened.

It was obvious he couldn’t shake that cold, windy day at the then TCF Bank Stadium, as in 2016 he would be released after kicking 75% on FGA’s and 78.9% on XPA’s. He would be picked up by Seattle for 2017, and it would be his final year in the NFL. His most notable moment with the Seahawks might legitimately be him taunting the Vikings sideline after making a field goal in a pre-season matchup where they hosted his former Vikings.

On a lighter note, Blair returned to Georgia in 2020 and finished his degree!

Daniel Carlson – The Second Attempt At An SEC Kicker

Jan 15, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Las Vegas Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson (2) with his second field goal as punter A.J. Cole (6) holds during the second quarter in an AFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

It is worth mentioning Greg Joseph and Dan Bailey, but the Vikings most recent example of kicker-torture is 2018 fifth round NFL Draft selection Daniel Carlson out of Auburn.

At the time of his drafting into the NFL, Daniel Carlson was the all-time leading scorer in SEC history with 480 points, until he was naturally passed by Will Reichard in 2023. Adding on the Carlson’s then-record, he never missed an extra point in his collegiate career.

As Vikings fans remember, he lasted literally just two weeks into the 2018 regular season on Minnesota’s roster, getting released after a disastrous performance in Green Bay that ended in a 29-29 tie in which Daniel Carlson went 0/3 on his field goals, leaving 9 points on the field. It is unfair to hold against Carlson, but Minnesota would miss the playoffs that season in which they played a win-and-in game against Chicago the last week of the season. Just makes you think of what could’ve been if he had made just one of those three field goal attempts…

Naturally, he was immediately swept up by the Las Vegas Raiders and has been of the best kickers in the NFL since the moment he stepped in their facilities. It was easy to stomach Blair Walsh flaming out because he ended up being completely cooked, but Carlson just hurts on another level since he’s legitimately good and the Vikings (perhaps prematurely) cut him after two games.

What The Past Kicker Woes Mean For Will Reichard

Dec 2, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide place kicker Will Reichard (16) warms up before the SEC Championship Game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Blair Walsh may not have been of the prestige of kicker that Daniel Carlson and Will Reichard were in college, but he still counts when counting the three highly-touted kickers the Vikings have drafted in the last 12 years. Will Reichard has a chance to slay an age-old narrative that Minnesota kickers are cursed, but he is the third of those aforementioned three kickers in the last 12 years.

If Will Reichard, the second time the Vikings have drafted the best kicker in college football history in the last 6 years, doesn’t pan out, then he may very well solidify some sort of ancient spell cast on the Vikings’ special teams room.

If Will Reichard does pan out, he can immediately become one of the most beloved Vikings in recent memory, and over time, one of the most beloved Vikings of all time.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference and Sports Reference CFB.