The Minnesota Vikings have begun taking a closer look at prospects in the upcoming draft.
KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported on April 4 that Minnesota has scheduled visits with nearly a dozen of college prospects this week ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, which starts April 28.
Among the crop of players mentioned by Wolfson is a University of Minnesota Golden Gophers star, Esezi Otomewo.
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Vikings Visiting With Gophers Pass-Rusher
Golden Gophers edge rusher Esezi Otomewo garnered plenty of interest at his pro day on Monday, April 4, with 10 teams on hand to watch the redshirt senior.
Otomewo was a Western Michigan commit before P.J. Fleck jettisoned for the head coaching position at the University of Minnesota. Otomewo followed Fleck and garnered several accolades throughout his career.
The Indianapolis native was Scout Team Defensive Player of the Year as a redshirt freshman and emerged as the Golden Gophers’ Outstanding Freshman of the Year in 2018. Otomewo started his final two seasons in Minnesota and earned All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention after tallying 30 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 13 starts in 2021.
Otomewo totaled 81 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, and one forced fumble in his career.
At 6-foot-6, 280 pounds, Otomewo has elite size, testing in the 90th percentile for height among defensive linemen, but lacks the explosiveness to be an immediate starter. He’s deemed a Day 3 prospect of the draft due to his lack of playmaking ability, which he makes up for with an assignment-focused mentality and relentless motor with his lengthy frame.
Otomewo’s tested higher than Danielle Hunter in arm length (34.8 inches), weight (280 pounds) and height but struggled in the 40-yard dash with a 5.01 40-time (Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline reported that Otomewo, who is still working back from a knee injury slowed down at the 30-yard mark). His physical traits could make him an ideal 3-4 interior pass-rusher.
“Long-levered defensive end with impressive body composition but limited playmaking production. Otomewo’s lack of range and his two-gapping potential make him best suited for a 4i or 5-technique in a 3-4 front,” NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein wrote on Otomewo. “He is a diligent, team-oriented defender with a focus on executing assignments but could leave a team hungry for more playmaking capability. There is untapped potential still lurking, but Otomewo might be too limited to become more than a rotational end with run-defending upside.”
Otomewo suffered a knee injury in Minnesota’s Guaranteed Rate Bowl victory over West Virginia. He did not participate in the Senior Bowl, which has led to the Golden Gophers star flying under the radar.
“His tape jumps out. Likely a third-day draft pick, but I have a feeling Esezi Otomewo is going to make somebody pretty darn happy,” Wolfson said on The Scoop With Dougie podcast.
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Other Prospect Visits Upcoming
Wolfson named another 10 players who have scheduled visits with the Vikings this week, a list primarily dominated by defensive prospects.
Four secondary defenders and three offensive linemen make up the majority of Wolfson’s list:
- Aron Johnson OT, South Dakota State University
- David Anenih EDGE, Houston
- Kalon Barnes CB, Baylor
- Jarrid Williams OT, Miami
- Cole Strange IOL, Chattanooga
- Percy Butler S, Louisiana
- Tay Martin WR, Oklahoma State
- Marcus Jones CB, Houston
- Jack Jones CB, Arizona State
- Darien Butler LB, Arizona State
Interior offensive lineman Cole Strange is the highest-ranked prospect on the list, ranked the 123rd best player in the upcoming draft by CBS Sports. Strange could be a potential backup to center Garrett Bradbury in 2021 and a contingency plan if the Vikings decide to not retain the former No. 18 overall pick beyond next season.
Aron Johnson, a Chisago Lakes High School graduate, is another player with ties to Minnesota.