Blair Walsh joined Saturday’s NFL draft parade of former Georgia players when the Minnesota Vikings selected the former Bulldogs kicker with the 175th overall pick in the sixth round.
Walsh is the third place-kicker selected in this year’s draft, following Texas A&M’s Randy Bullock and Greg Zuerlein of Missouri Western, both of whom came off the board Saturday.
He could compete for immediate playing time, as Minnesota experienced its share of kicking problems a year ago. Vikings veteran Ryan Longwell was 25th among NFL kickers in accuracy last year, hitting just 78.6 percent of his field-goal tries (22 of 28).
"The NFL is a fast moving-league and players' careers don’t seem to last too long anymore," Walsh said. "So I don’t know if you can pressure Ryan, I just know he is a great kicker and I’m excited to compete with him. "
Walsh was one of the most accurate kickers on UGA history before slumping as a senior by hitting 21 of 35 field goals. He finished his career 76-for-103 (73.8 percent) after hitting 80.9 percent of his attempts (55-for-68) in his first three seasons.
"My senior year didn’t go the way I wanted it to," Walsh said. "I ended up missing early on in the season, I missed a couple kicks and I started pressing a little bit. I’m my own worst critic. I just want to be there for the team, and help the team out. I feel like I got it back on track in the middle, end of the season. I learned from it, and I think I’m a better man and kicker for it."
Nonetheless, Walsh became the SEC’s all-time leading scorer as a senior, finishing his career with 412 points -- a total that ranks second in NCAA history. He also set an NCAA record with at least one field goal in 45 different games and holds UGA marks for career PATs (184) and consecutive PATs made (119).
Walsh is the fifth ex-Georgia player selected in this year’s draft. He joins offensive lineman Cordy Glenn (second round to Buffalo), center Ben Jones (fourth round to Houston), tight end Orson Charles (fourth round to Cincinnati) and cornerback Brandon Boykin (fourth round to Philadelphia).