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Jeff Locke was the the kickoff specialist for UCLA as well as its punter.
Most times no one cares too much about these positions, except when they mess up. Of the bunch, kickers tend to get the most credit and the most blame, depending on the outcome.
For the second consecutive year Rick Spielman drafted a specialist well ahead of where most people projected. Last year he selected kicker Blair Walsh from Georgia with a sixth-round pick. Walsh proved to be brilliant, setting the NFL record for most 50-yard field goals in a season. He converted all 10 attempts and finished with 141 points—the second-highest scoring total in franchise history.
This year Spielman selected UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round.
In both cases, the selections were for positions that did not appear to require an upgrade.
Ryan Longwell, while he had struggled some, was still a very effective kicker. The only downside was the strength of his kickoffs and the inability to kick the ball in the end zone. He played six seasons in Minnesota and finished third all time in franchise career scoring with 633 points.
Chris Kluwe has been a model of consistency. His average per punt has been between 42.3 and 47.6 yards, and in 623 punts has had only one punt blocked. Whether the team is frustrated with Kluwe's political activism, or they're concerned about his recovery from minor knee surgery on his non-kicking leg, they now have three punters on the roster.
Kluwe, who has 167,579 followers on Twitter, has been vocal about the gay-marriage-bill debate in Minnesota. When he was fined by the NFL for displaying support for Ray Guy's induction into the Hall of Fame on his uniform, it caught the ire of special teams coach Mike Priefer.
This could be the most interesting battle in all of training camp, as both Kluwe and Locke are from UCLA.
Punter: Jeff Locke—the Vikings invested too much by selecting him in the fifth round.
Kicker: Blair Walsh
Long Snapper: Cullen Loeffler
Holder: Jeff Locke
Punt Returner: Marcus Sherels
Kick Returner: Cordarrelle Patterson