One of the more intriguing of the Vikings’ Day 3 draft picks is Olisaemeka (Oli) Udoh, a right-tackle out of Elon University. The Vikings drafted him in the sixth round, number 193 overall.
Big and Raw Tackle Prospect
Of course the first thing that stands out about Udoh is his size. He’s a mountain of a man at 6’5 1/2” and 323 lbs. He’s got long 35 3/8” arms, and is also very wide, with a broad chest and thick tree-trunks for thighs. He’s also a guy without a lot of bad weight - fairly muscular overall. Comparing his measurables to a top prospect in this year’s draft like Cody Ford, Udoh compares similarly, if not favorably overall.
In short, he’s got all the ideal size traits for an NFL right tackle.
Athletically, he might be described as athletic for his size. He ran an excellent 40 yard dash, had average ‘burst’ rankings - vertical and broad jump - and fairly poor agility drills - 20 yard shuttle and 3-cone drill. He’s said to have fairly quick feet when it comes to pass protection, but on the other hand may lack the lateral quickness and agility necessary to be a good zone run blocker. Of course he has the size and strength to be an effective drive blocker, but not quick enough to be an effective puller.
All these comments may create some confusion in terms of what he may or may not be capable of, but they miss the central point about Udoh as a prospect: his is very raw.
Technique and Mean Streak Very Underdeveloped
Udoh played four years at Elon University, the smallest school in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) conference of the FCS. Not known for its offensive line coaching and development, among other things, Udoh didn’t develop much. And so, despite his experience, Udoh’s technique is still very raw.
The other thing that shows up in his tape is a lack of urgency, playing through the whistle, and that nasty, competitive toughness. When Udoh won his rep, he often just used his mass to neutralize smaller defenders, or simply push them out of the way.
What you often see in his tape, and in scouting comments, is that while he is big and strong, he plays somewhat tentatively - perhaps unsure of his assignment or technique, or lacking confidence. Whatever the reason, this seems to negatively effect his competitive toughness. It may also be that he didn’t have to work too hard much of the time against CAA competition to win his rep. In any case, when plays break down, you sometimes see Udoh just kinda chasing guys around or lagging behind the play.
A Big Project
All of that leaves Vikings offensive line coach Rick Dennison with a big project to develop. He was for taking a chance on Udoh with a mid to late round pick, and unlocking his potential will fall to him and his staff.
Dennison may be banking on a couple things in hopes of cashing in on this late round pick. First, an upgrade in coaching may help Udoh to make big strides in improving his technique, and hopefully develop more confidence and competitive toughness along the way. Improving things like better use of his hands/punch, better use of leverage, developing more consistent set-points in pass protection, footwork/body control in run blocking, and zone blocking in particular.
What is encouraging about Udoh, coming out of a small school program and facing 3rd rate competition, is that he had a good showing in the EW Shrine game and held his own during the Senior Bowl. That shows he has the ability to step-up his game and compete well against better competition. How far he can take it remains to be seen, but hopefully we’ll get a chance to see how he fares in training camp and pre-season action.
Best case scenario, if Udoh takes to NFL coaching like a duck to water, and he’s able to incorporate technique improvements in stride over the course of the off-season and training camp, earning more reps along the way, and demonstrating good technique and competitive toughness in pre-season action, he could challenge Rashod Hill for the swing tackle job.
Perhaps a more likely outcome, however, is that Udoh shows some improvement from OTAs through training camp that is promising enough for a spot on the practice squad. This would set him up, with continued improvement, to compete for the swing tackle position next year, and eventually starting right tackle.
But for now Udoh will have to show he’s as fit mentally as he is physically for the job at hand to earn a roster or practice squad spot.
Scouting Notes and Comments
Below are some scouting reports on Oli Udoh, which are very consistent.
Oli Udoh is a “first off the bus” prospect, he’s a physically imposing specimen who, with NFL coaching, could develop into a notable player at the pro level. As is, however, Udoh’s technique and polish are almost non-existent and his play demeanor doesn’t inspire much hope that he’s going to be able to channel his physical tools into an imposing, physical player. Udoh is quite tentative at times and appears to lack confidence in his skills. A major coaching project with notable payoff at the end. - Kyle Crabbs, TDN
Udoh is a toolsy prospect coming from the small-school ranks who fared well for himself at the Shrine Game and held his own at the Senior Bowl. At this point, Udoh has better traits than he does ability but his blend of size, length, power and foot speed serve as a strong foundation to develop. Patience is required, but Udoh has developmental upside in the later rounds. - Joe Marino, TDN
Mammoth right tackle prospect with intriguing developmental traits as both a run blocker and in pass protection. Udoh lacks the quickness for move-blocking duties but has power to generate push against opponents in front of him. There are exploitable holes in his pass sets for the NFL, but his size, length and potential for improvement in that phase are worthy of taking a shot on as a Day 3 draft-and-develop prospect that might require a year on the practice squad. - Lance Zierlein, nfl.com
Below is some tape on Udoh, wearing #73. The first couple are highlight reels of sorts.
And a game tape :
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