Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Vikings select three players in the sixth round

Elon Athletics
The Vikings had three selections in the sixth-round and capitalized upon moving back four times on Friday. Daniel House highlights all of the additions.

The Vikings had three selections in the sixth-round and capitalized upon moving back four times on Friday. They used two of the picks to add competition on defense and found another developmental tackle.

With the 191st pick, Minnesota drafted Arkansas defensive tackle Armon Watts. Watts didn’t have a large sample size until his senior season, but was highly productive. He played in all 12 games as a senior, posting eight sacks. Prior to 2018, he totaled just 114 snaps and played on a rotational basis. He is a powerful defensive tackle that measured in at 6-foot-5, 300 pounds. He flashed as a pass rusher and could be a candidate to compete for playing time at the three-technique defensive tackle position. Watts is another defensive tackle position coach Andre Patterson can develop. Minnesota has always used late round picks to bring competition to the defense line. It appears Watts is someone that could do so because of his potential versatility and pass rushing skills.

The Vikings held back-to-back selections and used the second pick on Wyoming safety Marcus Epps. Epps, a former walk-on was a finalist for the Burlsworth Award, which is given to a player that becomes the nation’s most outstanding former walk-on. Initially, he never thought he'd have the opportunity to play outside of the junior college level.

"I didn’t have anybody recruiting me so I was thinking of going the junior college route but I had some connections," Epps said. "Somebody sent my film up there really late in the process. They ended up liking me but it was too late to offer a scholarship so they asked me to walk on."

The young safety finished 2018 with 68 total tackles (five for loss) and one sack. He also ranked eighth in the country in tackling efficiency at his position, according to Pro Football Focus. During his three years of extensive playing time, Epps posted nine interceptions and 22 pass breakups. He was widely considered an undrafted free agent candidate, but the Vikings spent their second six round pick on him.

Finally, Minnesota finished the round by adding a very intriguing offensive tackle. Oli Udoh, a mammoth small school tackle from Elon University, gained buzz late in the draft process. Udoh was invited to the Senior Bowl and played against the West team, which was led by Vikings linebackers coach Adam Zimmer. Members of Minnesota’s staff had the chance to see him up close and evidently came away impressed. They had plenty of contact with him that week.

"I had a good amount of contact with them during that week. The assistant offensive line coach [Vikings Assistant OL Coach Andrew Janocko] was the offensive coordinator, so that also helped with this whole process because he liked me a lot," Udoh said. "Down the line, saw them at the Combine and at the Senior Bowl, so just staying in constant contact with them ultimately led me to the Vikings.

After his showing that week, Udoh was invited to the Senior Bowl and swiftly improved his draft stock. He measures in at 6-foot-5, 336 pounds and features a whopping 85-inch wingspan. This ranks in the 95th percentile among past offensive tackle prospects. Udoh also shattered the 40-yard dash, running a 5.05-second time at 336 pounds. He had a low shuttle score, but possesses wingspan and athleticism that could be developed.

Now, Minnesota has added two interior offensive linemen and a tackle within the first six rounds. It’s pretty clear they wanted to come away with a developmental tackle and two interior prospects.

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