Vikings Retain More Depth on the Offensive Line

The Minnesota Vikings have expressed great faith in their current group of offensive linemen to this point in the offseason. They’ve brought back multiple players already, including their starting center Garrett Bradbury as well as interior depth lineman Austin Schlottmann. On Saturday, it was announced that the Vikings retained even more continuity on the offensive line by coming to an agreement with OL Oli Udoh.

Udoh was a sixth-round pick of the 2019 NFL Draft by Minnesota, and that is where he has spent his entire NFL career to this point after playing his college ball at Elon University. When he was drafted, he was just the fifth player ever to be drafted out of the program and remains one of only 12 alums to suit up at the NFL level.

The offensive tackle played in just seven games over his first two NFL seasons in 2019 and 2020 combined, primarily taking on a special teams role with the Vikings. However, that all changed in 2021 when he was a breakout player during training camp.

Vikings Retain More Depth on the Offensive Line
Aug 27, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Oli Udoh. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

It was a bit odd, though, that this breakout occurred at the right guard position, considering he had primarily played tackle up to that point, especially considering the Vikings had just drafted Wyatt Davis in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, who primarily played right guard throughout his college career at Ohio State.

Even still, the third-year player won the starting position, and that is where he stayed for much of the 2021 season. Things didn’t go particularly smoothly for him, though, as he led the NFL with 16 penalties called against him during that regular season.

This ultimately left the Vikings searching for other solutions at right guard, and they drafted Ed Ingram in the second-round of the 2022 NFL Draft, who immediately stepped into that starting role.

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However, the selection allowed Udoh to step back to his natural tackle position in a backup role to Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill. This became important when both O’Neill and Blake Brandel suffered season-ending injuries down the stretch of the regular season. In their stead, Udoh stepped up as the starting right tackle during Week 17 as well as the Vikings playoff game against the New York Giants.

Overall, this is a terrific signing by the Vikings. Udoh may have caught some flack for being an inconsistent player during his starting days at right guard, but this should not impact his reputation as a tackle. He’s a solid backup with starting experience at both positions, and that could be invaluable if the Vikings find themselves in a pinch with injuries once again.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.