Vikings Buck Analytics to Land ‘Cold-Blooded’ Scoring Threat

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Minnesota Vikings

Getty General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah went against his analytics background in selecting Alabama kicker Will Reichard in the draft last week.

The data shows that a drafted kicker offers little to no better efficiency than an undrafted kicker — meaning the Vikings burned a sixth-round pick selecting Reichard.

“Other than Justin Tucker, we can’t be all that confident that a kicker is better than a league-average player at the position, and even Tucker is worth only roughly about 0.3 wins above replacement a year,” Sumer Sports’ Eric Eager wrote ahead of the draft. “Drafted kickers are not worth less than undrafted kickers, by any stretch, they are just statistically indistinguishable from them.”

Reichard, the NCAA all-time leading scorer, hopes to prove the Vikings right by becoming a statistical anomaly.

He’s among just 34 kickers all-time who attempted 100 or more field goals in college, offering a larger sample size that Adofo-Mensah and his analytics department surveyed in their selection of Reichard. He converted 274 of 275 extra points at Alabama and hit on 86% of his field-goal attempts.

But beyond the numbers, Reichard’s character might be the bigger reason for an investment at kicker.

Blue-chip edge rusher Dallas Turner, selected 17th overall by the Vikings, went to bat for his kicker who has kicked in every high-stakes situation imaginable in the SEC under a no-nonsense coach like Nick Saban.

“They got a cold-blooded sniper: that’s that man, Will Reichard,” Turner told Paul Allen on KFAN’s #92Noon show on April 29. “Will’s been my kicker ever since I been in college, so that’s all I know. Will is definitely cold-blooded, for sure. He shows up every single time you need him.”

Vikings Bet on Will Reichard’s Character

Will Reichard

GettyAlabama Crimson Tide kicker Will Reichard.

Kickers often find themselves isolated from the rest of the football team due to the cerebral nature, focus and superstition that comes with the position.

But Reichard is a different breed, opting to step up as a leader and not hide from the stakes of his role.

“Kickers can be seen that type of way to where they’re not really connected to their team, and that’s not really something that I wanted to be,” Reichard said, per Purple Insider.

“I wanted to be somebody that was super connected with the team. Being a leader at Alabama helped me a lot because I could make connections with other players and root them on, be their biggest cheerleader when they’re on the field….And then I think as a kicker, everybody can see your work ethic and just seeing how hard you work, and I think that they kind of have respect for guys that work hard at any position.”

Vikings college scout Steve Sabo felt Reichard’s leadership from his teammates at Alabama when he inquired during top-30 visits.

“We had a couple Alabama players come through on 30 visits, so every time one came through, I’d make sure I peel off and say, ‘Hey man, what do you think about Will?’ And first they get kind of shocked and like, ‘Oh my God.’ I felt he was a part of that team, he’s not an isolated player,” Sabo told Purple Insider.

Reichard enters the Vikings offseason program in competition with former UFL kicker John Parker Romo.

Will Reichard Shined in Alabama’s Final Game

Will Reichard

GettyWill Reichard celebrates during Alabama’s appearance in the 2024 Rose Bowl.

Last season, Reichard was a perfect 5-for-5 from kicks from 50 or more yards out, with two of those kicks coming in the national championship semifinals against Michigan.

In the most high-pressure situations, Reichard converted from 50 and 52 yards out. The 50-yarder came with 7 seconds left in the first half to cut the Wolverines’ lead to three points, while the 52-yarder ultimately forced overtime with five minutes left in the game.

“The biggest thing is how he performed in pressure situations, game-winning kicks, you can even go back to the semifinals game at the Rose Bowl versus Michigan,” special teams coordinator Matt Daniels said, per Purple Insider. “He had a 50-yarder and a 52-yarder and those were probably two of the biggest kicks really in the entire playoff series. He went through his process and what I love most about it is that he had a 50-yarder and a 52-yarder with consistent ball strike.”

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