Rhys Lloyd, K
(5113, 231, 4.92) Minnesota
Notes: Born Rhys (pronounced "Reece") John Lloyd, June 5, 1982, in Dover, England. He attended Astor Secondary School in Dover (now Astor College for the Arts) before moving to the States with his parents, where he attended Eastview High School in Apple Valley, Minnesota and lettered in football and soccer. In football, as a senior, he was an All-Conference selection and an All-State selection. In soccer, he was an All-State selection.
College: Two-time All-American placekicker at Rochester Community and Technical College (2001-02) before joining the University of Minnesota, where he was an all-purpose kicker (placekicker, kickoffs and punter) for the Gophers in 2003-04. He was distinctive for his rugby-style punting, concentration under pressure and long-distance field goals. Teammates referred to him by the nickname "Winston Churchill", after the British prime minister who led the United Kingdom through World War II. Lloyd is best remembered for a 42-yard field goal in the dying seconds of the 2003 Sun Bowl to beat the University of Oregon 31-30. Converted 14-of-18 field goals with a long of 54 yards, and averaged 39.2 on punts, with 10 placed inside the 20 in 2003. Connected on 12-of-18 on FGAs in 2004, and averaged 39.8 punting with a long of 63 yards and 13 inside the 20. Also recorded 18 touchbacks on kickoffs during his college career.
Pro: Originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Baltimore Ravens in 2005; he was subsequently released before the start of the regular season. He got a look from the Green Bay Packers during the 2006 offseason. He played with the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europa in 2006-07, where he tied a league record for the longest field goal with a 56 yarder.
He signed again with the Baltimore Ravens in 2007 and nailed a 55-yard field goal in the team's preseason finale, and made their opening-day roster. Ultimately, he bounced back and forth between the active roster and their practice squad before being claimed on waivers by the Carolina Panthers late in the 2007 season. The Panthers used him primarily as a kickoff specialist, with veteran John Kasay handling field goal duties. Lloyd led the NFL in 2008 in touchbacks on kickoffs with 30. He recorded 21 touchbacks in 2009.
Carolina did not tender him as a restricted free agent this offseason, because it would have required them to make him a one-year offer of just over $1 million, more than double the $460,000 base salary he earned last season. The Vikings reportedly signed Lloyd to a two-year deal.
Positives: Lloyd has developed into a consistently good kickoff specialist who can drive ball into the endzone and demonstrates good touch and placement on kickoffs when desired. Good depth and hang time on kickoffs. He has a thick-skinned mental makeup for being a kicker in that he seems unfazed by pressure. He has consistently nailed long field goals at various levels throughout his career. Above-average athlete with soccer background, he can run around, make a tackle and handle punting chores in a pinch.
Negatives: Has developed into a reliable kickoff specialist but is not consistent enough to be a full-time placekicker or punter. Unorthodox mechanics at times and is not reliably consistent as a placekicker or punter.
Summary: Some might consider a roster spot for a kickoff specialist a luxury, but field position can be a significant factor in the outcome of games. Lloyd has proven over the past two seasons that he can consistently put the ball into the endzone. He can also serve as your extra-long field goal kicker and be an emergency punter. He should be an ideal compliment to the reliable veteran Ryan Longwell.
Kevin Brown has been providing personnel analysis and writing about the Vikings for more than 20 years with Viking Update. Follow VU on Twitter and discuss this and other topics on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Vikings Update web site or magazine, click here.