With the 2016 season over, the Minnesota Vikings are looking to the future and have reportedly signed former Texas Tech punter Taylor Symmank to a futures contract.
There were a lot of rumors that the undrafted punter would sign with Minnesota and compete with Jeff Locke last summer, but that never came to fruition. Symmank and former West Virginia punter Nick O’Toole tried out for the Vikings during the team’s mini-camp, but neither were signed. Symmank also worked out with Green Bay before the 2016 season, but nothing came of that either.
Symmank was Texas Tech’s No. 1 punter for three seasons from 2013-15 and on 99 punts, he averaged 43.7 yards per attempt. In 33 punts during his senior season, he averaged 46.0 yards per attempt.
A lot of times, punter statistics are tough to gauge, but Locke averaged just 42.6 yards per attempt, which was 29th out of 30 qualified punters. However, it’s important to note that Locke was also tied for fifth 34 punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line and had just three touchbacks all season.
It’s possible Locke had a lower average because he punted with shorter field a lot of the time. Of course, it’s also noteworthy that every punter who had more attempts land inside the opponent’s 20-yard line also averaged more yards per attempt.
Oakland Raiders punter Marquette King was tied with Locke with 34 attempts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, and he averaged 48.6 yards per punt, which was second-highest in the NFL.
Minnesota also had trouble with kicker Blair Walsh, who appeared to lose his confidence after missing a chip shot field goal in the final minute of a playoff game last season.