The rookies arrive at the TCO Performance Center on Sunday, July 23rd, while the veterans have two more days before getting ready for the NFL season, which starts with a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 10th. There will be several interesting contests, and one could be in for a starting spot on the interior offensive line.
A Viking quietly changed Positions
oil out came into the league as an offensive tackle out of small school Elon. Former general manager Rick Spielman made the selection in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL draft. The tackle was a big man with exciting athletic tools, but didn’t play for a powerhouse school. These are the qualities that teams will focus on later in the draft.
Four years later, Udoh has had a solid career that has already exceeded sixth-round expectations. Udoh appeared in one game as a rookie, six in 2020 and all 34 over the past two seasons, starting 16 contests in 2021 and one in 2022.
Most remember his time as the starting right guard for Mike Zimmer’s Vikings in 2021, but he struggled mightily. The frequency of drawing fines rightly bothered people.
The new regime came in and immediately signed two guards in free agency (Chris Reed and Jesse Davis) and drafted Ed Ingram in the second round. Udoh was moved back to his natural position and was the backup right tackle. A year away from that, Udoh is apparently back as a guard – at least that’s how he’s listed official viking list.
But why would they if he didn’t play well in that spot in 2021? Well, there are a few reasons why the move still makes sense. First of all, Ingram also struggled, and most of it was called “rookie struggles”, but the Vikings need to plan for the scenario where it will remain as it was and find a potential replacement for him.
GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah neither signed a new guard nor drafted one and returned the entire line. The top competition for Ingram is once again veteran Chris Reed, who couldn’t beat him last year.
Udoh allowed more QB hurries than Ingram, but Ingram allowed far more pressures, hits and sacks. Ingram finished his debut season with a pass blocking efficiency of 95.3%, and Udoh had 96.3% in 2021. However, Udoh had a league-leading 16 penalties, Ingram just 4.
At the end of the day, the Vikings are trying the same thing as last year. They want to create a competition between a few players and try to find the best by betting on a serious improvement from someone.
Udoh played well last season filling in for the injured Brian O’Neill, so it was a surprise that the Vikings were able to keep him, and no other team snapped up Udoh in free agency.
Another reason for the position change is the remaining tackle depth. The decision makers drafted Vederian Lowe in 2022 and kept him all year as a fifth offensive tackle — an unusual measure. Most teams carry four tackles, but they apparently liked Lowe enough to warrant an extra spot.
The other guy in the mix is Blake Brandel, who filled in for Christian Darrisaw whenever he had to miss time with his pair of concussions. If the Vikings are happy with these two as backups, they will find a reason to keep Udoh on the roster, and his best bet is at guard or a hybrid between both positions. Against that hybrid theory, the Vikings list other guys in several places. Reed and backup center Schlottmann are listed as (G/C), so it was possible to list Udoh as tackle and guard. Some other players were listed as simple (OL) – offensive lineman.
The Vikings will most likely start training camp with last year’s starting group — but without Brian O’Neill, who may not be ready. However, it is common practice to mix around some players, try them out in different places and prepare them if they really have to play somewhere else. We will know more about Udoh’s position in a few weeks.
Janik Eckardt is a soccer fan who likes numbers and statistics. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking football encyclopedia, loves to watch sitcoms and classic rock is his favorite music genre. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt