Kicker Gets a Talking-To

The Vikings appear ready to investigate all the players poised to enter the NFL draft, as they had a kicker in their interview sights at the Senior Bowl. He's a legitimate NFL prospect, but the Vikings already have a solid veteran in the fold. Learn more inside.

Camp body. It's a term often used for young players, especially rookies, who are signed to an NFL team but have little chance of making the final roster.

That's often the case with rookie kickers, a breed of NFL player that is intrinsically hard for coaches to trust. Invariably, NFL teams will have a proven veteran they expect to ultimately win the job. Sometimes, however, the veteran's leg is no longer strong enough or the rookie at least makes a big enough impression to receive multiple tryouts from additional teams during the season.

Whatever the case may be for former University of Georgia kicker Brandon Coutu, the Vikings were spotted talking with him at the Senior Bowl.

Despite the uncertain nature of rookie kickers. Coutu should be one of the top prospects at his position in the 2008 NFL Draft. He has a strong leg – he has made kicks of 50 yards or more in each of his last three seasons with the Bulldogs – and appears to have the mental makeup needed at kicker, as he has shown he can convert field goals under pressure situations. His point-after touchdowns were perfect on 114 attempts in college as well.

In his first real action at Georgia, he made only 57 percent of his 23 field goal attempts in 2005, but did connect on a career-long 58-yarder. He did slightly better the following season, converting 6 of 10 field goal attempts with a long of 55. Last year, he increased to a more respectable 72 percent on 13 of 18 field goals.

Of course, the Vikings' need at the position appears to be well taken care of with Ryan Longwell increasing his kickoff distance a few yards from his initial season with the team, thanks to a different workout routine. He connected on 83 percent of his field goals with a long of 55 yards, the same long he had in 2006. For his career, Longwell has been good on 82 percent of his field goal attempts.

While former Vikings special teams coach Gary Zauner attended the Senior Bowl and views Coutu as a legitimate NFL prospect, he likely wouldn't end up supplanting Longwell. However, if Coutu isn't drafted, they might consider bringing him in as a "camp body" with solid upside. The Vikings did like have Longwell scale back on his kicks during the offseason last year to save his leg, a philosophy that appeared to pay dividends during the season.

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