EAGAN, Minn. — Daniel Carlson was hoping to be drafted in the fourth or fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
The fourth round passed, but the fifth — and the Vikings — didn't.
Minnesota, in fact, executed a deal to re-acquire the 167th pick after initially sending it to the New York Jets to get the 157th pick and select TE Tyler Conklin.
The Colorado native said he was "secretly hoping" that Minnesota would become his pro destination, based on a private workout that Carlson had with Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer in Auburn after the combine.
"They had shown some interest, I was secretly hoping, such a great team and a competitive team, that they would maybe give me a call here soon," Carlson said. "The fourth round kind of went away, and then it was a big surprise when they traded up. Just super excited for me and my family. Just kind of taking it all in still at this point."
Carlson opened a conference call with the media by saying how grateful he was to the Vikings organization for welcoming him in and "taking a chance on me."
"I'm thankful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for this amazing opportunity that is ahead," Carlson said. "I can't wait to join the team and begin the next journey for them, which is competing for a Super Bowl. Excited for what's ahead and can't wait to get started. Just very excited and feel very blessed to be in the position I am today and to have been drafted by such an amazing organization."
Carlson, who has led the SEC in scoring the past two seasons with 134 and 126 points, was the first kicker selected in 2018.
The 6-foot-5 Carlson has had plenty of leg in more ways than one, totaling eight field goals of 50 or more yards in the past two seasons.
"I'm not your typical kicker body build, I guess, but there are advantages to having longer levers," Carlson said. "For people who can understand golf or different sports where having a longer club or whatever it is, you get more force just by simple physics to what you're kicking or hitting.
"Those are the advantages, it helps a lot with kickoffs, longer field goals, all that stuff," he added. "But you have to also try and be consistent, and that's sometimes where a smaller guy has a bigger advantage because he has less long levers to move. That's something I've worked on very hard over the years, making sure I'm consistent and smooth so that I can be as consistent or more consistent than any other body size."
Carlson was the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year and a First-Team All-Conference selection in 2016 and 2017 and became the first three-time finalist for the Lou Groza award.
In 2017, Carlson made 23 of 31 field goals in 2017, including 4-for-8 on field goals from 50 or more yards, and made all 57 extra points. He was 28 of 32 (4-for-7 from 50-plus), made 44 extra points and led FBS with 2.15 field goals per game in 2016.
After redshirting in 2013, Carlson finished his career 92-of-114 (80.7 percent) on field goals and made all 198 extra points with 480 points.
On kickoffs, Carlson had 156 of 222 (70.3 percent) result in touchbacks. He also averaged 42 yards per punt in 2014.
Carlson was asked about hitting from 56 yards and what he thought his max would be.
"It's tough to say, but depending on attitude and weather, obviously Minnesota is indoors, which will help a lot, but I made quite a few kicks from 50-plus yards over the years," Carlson said. "During private workouts, we've backed it up to 65 yards and made those.
"Kicking in Colorado, which is where I've been for the draft the last few days, with the altitude here, I was hitting from 75 yards," he added. "It depends on the day, but I think I feel confident from 60 yards and in, and from 65 and in within an indoor setting. If I'm hitting the ball clean, I think that is something that I can do pretty consistently. It's more about accuracy at that point."