The Minnesota Vikings will be having a heated kicker battle over the summer. Incumbent starter Kai Forbath and former Iowa kicker Marshall Koehn will be facing off.
As the Minnesota Vikings finish organized team activities and head into mini-camp, the Vikings apparently have one more position battle worth monitoring at an all-important position.
After the draft and free agency, the Vikings’ kicker job seemed destined for Kai Forbath, who was a perfect 15-for-15 in place of Blair Walsh last season. But, instead, a Jan. 3 pickup has made himself known over OTAs in Marshall Koehn, a 24-year old kicker who spent the 2016 offseason and training camp with the Miami Dolphins.
In a Star Tribune article last Tuesday, Andrew Krammer reports that the kicker competition isn’t just for show.
"There’s a legitimate kicker competition with Marshall Koehn’s leg strength standing above Kai Forbath’s during three OTAs open to reporters. And at least on Tuesday, Koehn made all three of his field goal attempts while Forbath missed right on a 43-yard attempt."
Koehn last kicked full-time for the Iowa Hawkeyes in 2015. Koehn was signed by the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent, yet didn’t make the roster. In two seasons as starter at Iowa, Koehn was 28-for-36 on field goals, while going 47-for-53 on extra points.
The highlight of Koehn’s college career is a 57-yard field goal that he nailed to give Iowa a win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 19, 2015. The video of the kick follows:
While Forbath clearly holds an advantage over the inexperienced kicker, Koehn clearly offers a stronger leg than the 29-year old Forbath. Yet, Vikings’ fans know that kicking power needs to come with accuracy in order to be an effective kicker in the NFL.
According to NFL.com, the knocks on Koehn out of college were his kickoff depth and missed chip shot field goals, including extra points. The missed chip shots were explained as “mental” mistakes. Vikings’ fans know though that a strong mental makeup is important at the kicker position.
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That being said, Koehn has had time to work on his flaws. Koehn should also have the leg strength to improve his kickoff depth. If he shows solid accuracy, including an ability to make extra points, he could get the spot over Forbath, who was only 11-for-14 on extra points in 2016.
Nevertheless, Forbath should remain the favorite, considering he has a career field goal percentage of 86.6 and has proven to be a reliable kicker at a position where consistency is key.
In the meantime, let’s hope for a great battle at a position that the Vikings hope produces better results in 2017.
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