Who Is the Vikings New Rookie Kicker?

Memphis place kicker Riley Patterson answers questions from the media Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, after the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. 122819cottonbowlpresser03

The Minnesota Vikings will reenter familiar territory this summer at the kicker position. Dan Bailey, a kicker that appeared in 46 games for Minnesota, was not welcomed back for 2021.

So, the Vikings will have another true-blue kicking competition, comprised of two players — Greg Joseph and Riley Patterson.

Joseph is a veteran, spending time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 when Tom Brady’s squad won a Super Bowl over the mighty Kansas City Chiefs. All told, Joseph has attempted 20 field goals in his career while connecting on 17 of them. Based on a smidgen of experience, Joseph is probably the “frontrunner,” but that should not be considered ironclad.

Who’s the other guy?

His name is Riley Patterson, an alumnus of the University of Memphis. General Manager Rick Spielman brought him aboard the roster after the 2021 NFL Draft. Patterson played in every single game for Memphis since the start of the 2017 collegiate season. In those four seasons, Patterson connected on 240 of 246 extra points (or a 97.6% success rate). For most NFL teams, that stat would be classified as “what’s the big deal?” but the Vikings have notoriously struggled with extra points — seemingly forever. In theory, Patterson would solve that conundrum based on his college resume.

As for field goals, he converted 64 of 83 attempts at Memphis, a 77.1% rate. That is not otherworldly, but perhaps his accuracy will improve indoors at U.S. Bank Stadium.

A graduate of Edwardsville High School in southern Illinois, Patterson was undrafted last weekend. He received phone calls from a few teams but narrowed his focus to the Vikings. Patterson recently talked with Matt Kamp from The Intelligencer, a newspaper from Patterson’s hometown, and indicated his desire to join the Vikings:

I wanted to go to the Vikings. I was hoping they were going to draft me, but at the end of the day it’s still the same opportunity. I love their special team’s coach and situation, especially with them being indoors. It’s the best spot I could imagine going to. I’ve been told it’s an open competition between Greg Joseph and me. I’ve heard really good things about Greg and that he’s a really good kicker. It’s going to be a good competition. Drafted or not drafted, if you’re in an open competition you have to go in there and win it out. Jake Elliott was drafted by the Bengals but Randy Bullock did better and Elliott was shifted to the Eagles before the season got started. Things turned out great for him. Drafted or not drafted, I don’t think it matters too much. It’s all about performing in the competition.

The Vikings signed an undrafted defensive back from Memphis three years ago, Craig James. He played a few games on special teams for the 2018 Vikings before landing with the Philadelphia Eagles, a landing spot where James has appeared in 18 games (mostly special teams).

On Patterson, he wants to be known as a reliable commodity — something the Vikings desperately seek at the kicker position. He also calls himself a “God-fearing man.”

Around the time that the Vikings 2020 season was swirling down the drain, Patterson drilled a career-long 56-yard field goal in a game against Southern Methodist University on October 3, 2020. Therefore, the man has a beefy leg and tape exists to prove it.

Patterson also holds the record for most field goals made in a Bowl game. He connected on six field goals during the 2019 Goodyear Cotton Bowl. Too, he also owns a Cotton Bowl record 51-yard field goal.

He studied Supply Chain Management at Memphis.

Patterson will need a change of fortune in comparison to Vikings rookie kickers of the last 20 years. Some of the men’s tenures in Minnesota have ended messily. The last four Vikings rookie kickers? Daniel Carlson, Blair Walsh, Aaron Elling, and Hayden Epstein.

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