In the midst of what many fans are considering to be a surprisingly successful season, the Minnesota Vikings have found hidden gems all over the team.
While rookies are often backup offensive linemen or depth cornerbacks to start their careers, one of Minnesota’s most overlooked players has started every game this season– yet has averaged less than five snaps per game.
When undrafted Vikings punter Ryan Wright beat out former Jordan Berry for the starting job in August, fans turned their heads at one of the first major roster decisions made by new Minnesota general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and his crew. Since then, it has proved to be the right call.
Wright, the rookie out of Tulane, has been phenomenal for the Vikings. He first garnered attention in Week 6 after he punted ten times against Miami, including a 73-yarder from his own endzone. The performance in Minnesota’s win was enough for Wright to be named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Even though the game in Miami has easily been his best, Wright has been a consistent upside for the Vikings all season.
Through the team’s seven games, Wright is averaging 43.2 net punt yards, good enough for eighth in the league, and his 73-yard bomb in Miami is tied for the fifth-longest punt this season. His kicks have often caught returners off-guard, forcing them to sprint back to retrieve the ball, seeing how they are averaging just 5.1 yards on returned punts from Wright. Arguably most impressive is that he is tied for fourth place in punts inside the 20-yard-line, despite already having had a bye week.
Although Minnesota would like to keep their punter off the field as much as possible this season, having a guy like Ryan Wright is about as much relief as they can have during fourth-down situations.