The Vikings spent another 5th round pick on a kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik, something they did last year in acquiring Daniel Carlson, and back in 2013 to acquire punter Jeff Locke. Neither turned out that well, but in fairness to Carlson, he was excellent after moving to Oakland.
Born in Norway, Vedvik played soccer and didn’t get into American football until he was exposed to it as an exchange student in the US. Presumably he picked up on what a lucrative career path punting or kicking can be in the NFL - 6 or 7 figure salary for only a handful of plays each game - and decided to pursue the American dream. He worked at it, went to kicking camps, learned on YouTube, and after making a 70 yarder at a kicking camp, got a scholarship offer from Marshall University - Randy Moss’ alma mater.
He wasn’t all that good in college- he made only 62.5% of his field goals (10/16), 97.6% of his extra points (41/42), and had a 41.8 yard punting average while at Marshall.
Nevertheless, he was picked up by the Ravens as a UDFA last year, despite the Ravens having the best kicker in the league - Justin Tucker - under contract. Vedvik improved as a Raven, bumping his gross punting average to 46.8 yards in 2018 preseason action, with an average 4.27” hang time. He had 8 punts inside the 20, and one blocked in 19 attempts.
As a kicker, he went 8/9 and made all of his extra point attempts (2/2). The only field goal missed was from 54 yards. In kickoffs, his average kick depth was 3.8 yards deep in the end zone, and half of his 24 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.
But shortly before the regular season, Vedvik got jumped in east Baltimore, getting beaten up so badly (head injuries, shock trauma) the Ravens had to put him on IR, ending his season.
He came back this off-season with the Ravens, struggling early in the off-season program apparently with some longer kicks, but turning in an excellent comeback game this past week, going 4-4 in field goal attempts, including a 55-yarder, and averaging a whopping 55.5 yards punting on two punts.
The Ravens made it clear early in the off-season that they were showcasing Vedvik in order to trade him, and his results in his first preseason game back drew interest from four teams, apparently, including the Vikings and Bears.
The Ravens have a history of developing good kickers. They have the best in the league in Justin Tucker, and Will Lutz, Graham Gano, and Stephen Hauschka all started their careers in Baltimore. Apparently the Ravens recently retired special teams coach had a good eye for talent, and his assistant Randy Brown for developing it.
Daniel Carlson v2.0 ?
Looking at Tucker, Lutz and Gano - three of the best kickers in the league last season - Vedvik looks to have a pretty good pedigree coming out of Baltimore, where he made 90% of his kicks in practice this year. But the fact remains:
Vedvik hasn’t played in an NFL regular season game yet, and has only a small sample of preseason games to evaluate. There was no question the Ravens had him on the trade block, and after his last preseason performance, they couldn’t have asked for a better situation to start the bidding.
A 5th round pick was about the best compensation the Ravens could reasonably hope for. If he turns out to be a franchise kicker for the Vikings for the next ten years, he’d be well worth it. But if he gets the yips this month, then what? Another 5th rounder down the drain like Daniel Carlson - who went on to be one of the most accurate kickers in the league last year, post-Vikings ?
On the other hand, you can’t blame the Vikings for bringing him in, for two reasons:
1) Dan Bailey has been averaging around 75% on field goals in OTAs and training camp, and I don’t think many (or any) have been from beyond 50 yards.
2) Vedvik’s kickoffs are about five yards longer than Bailey’s, which could produce more touchbacks and/or worse starting field position for opponents.
Those reasons are basically the same as those for drafting Carlson last year, only Forbath was a little more accurate.
Mike Zimmer said he liked Dan Bailey, and didn’t know about the trade for Vedvik in his press conference today, which was a bit strange. We’ll see how he takes to Vedvik. Spending a 5th round pick on him means he makes the team and Bailey doesn’t, but who knows how long a leash Zimmer gives him.
Kicker AND Punter ?
The other question about Vedvik, is whether he is given the dual role of punter and kicker. Vedvik doesn’t have much of an advantage on Matt Wile in terms of punt length and hang time, but Zimmer did express some mild criticism of Wile in directional punting and not getting a punt on Friday further inside the 20.
It would seem a bit risky, from an injury standpoint, to have only one guy on the roster as both punter and kicker, so perhaps they keep Wile (who’s also the holder), and maintain Vedvik as a backup punter if Wile goes down or fails to perform.
It will be interesting to see how many reps Vedvik gets in each role next Sunday against Seattle.
Bottom line, if the Vikings are going to continue to spend draft picks on special team specialists - they’ve now spent two fifth-rounders and a 7th rounder on two kickers and a long-snapper in the past year - they’ve (Mike Zimmer) has to show some commitment to keeping and developing them. That means if Vedvik misses three kicks week two against the Packers, the Vikings have to stay with him. If he’s good enough to spend a fifth round pick on, he’s good enough to stick with after a bad game.
Was trading a 5th round pick for Kaare Vedvik a good move ?
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