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NFL Draft: Minnesota Vikings select first punter in UCLA's Jeff Locke

By John Breech |

Vikings' fifth-round pick, punter Jeff Locke, will compete with Chris Kluwe for a job in Minnesota. (USATSI)

Every year one of the biggest questions in the NFL Draft is: When will the first punter be taken?

Actually, that's never a big question, but it got answered on Saturday anyway when the Minnesota Vikings selected UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round with the 155th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Locke was the highest-rated punter going into the draft and was projected to go as high as the third round.

The four-year starter at UCLA finished his college career with a 44.2 yard average per punt, the second-highest total in school history. Locke placed a total of 99 punts inside the 20-yard line during his four-year career. The former Bruin also had 70 career punts of over 50-yards, including an 81-yard punt his freshman that was the longest at UCLA since 1995.

The addition of Locke to Minnesota's roster could mean bad news for another former UCLA punter: incumbent Chris Kluwe. Kluwe is due $1.45 million in salary in 2013, but more importantly, he's not due any bonuses, so cutting Kluwe wouldn't cost the Vikings a dollar, according to Tom Pelissero of ESPN 1500 in Minnesota.

Kluwe has every intention of keeping his job though, "Statistically, I'm the best punter the Vikings have ever had, we'll see what happens," Kluwe told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The outspoken Kluwe, who has been a vocal supporter of gay rights and wants to see former NFL punter Ray Guy in the Hall of Fame, came under fire by the team in December, "He's got to focus on punting and holding," Minnesota special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said.

If the Vikings pick their punter based on Twitter followers, the tweet-happy Kluwe will be in good shape. The veteran punter has over 167,000 followers compared to Locke's 1,200.

After Locke was drafted, Kluwe took to Twitter to react and of course, quoted the movie 'Dodgeball.'

Keep your eye on everything NFL by following John Breech on Twitter @JohnBreech.

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