EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings added to their offensive line in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by selecting Illinois tackle Vederian Lowe with the 184th overall pick.
Lowe, a native of Rockford, Illinois, cracked the starting lineup as a freshman in 2017 and went on to open a school-record 52 games for the Illini. He is listed at 6-foot-5 and 314 pounds on his NFL.com bio.
He earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors in each of the past two seasons.
Vikings national scout Chisom Opara noted Lowe's versatility and long arms, which measured at 35 3/8 inches.
"He's not a guy dependent on one scheme or another," Opara said. "He's got enough athletic ability to function in a zone scheme, but also has the size and power to play downhill and move people off the line of scrimmage, so he's a guy with an impressive background."
Lowe is married and has two sons who are just shy of 1 and 3 years old. He also gained legal guardianship of his 15-year-old brother Vydalis Cockrell after the tragic death of their mother.
"I definitely have had my ups and downs in life, and I've definitely been through the ringer in terms of facing adversity," Lowe said Saturday after his selection. "It's done nothing but help make me into the man I am today. I think everything I've went through has helped put me in this position and has gotten me to Minnesota. I'm just so, so happy that they believed in me enough to draft me. I'm going to make sure I give them everything I've got day-in and day-out."
View photos of Illinois T Vederian Lowe who was selected No. 184 overall in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Vydalis, his mother and grandmother all lived together, but when Lowe's mother died, it was just Vydalis – who was 12 at the time – in the home trying to take care of their grandmother. Lowe said he pursued legal guardianship to offer Vydalis a chance to be a kid and benefit from a structured household.
Opara said the experiences Lowe has faced have led him to grow up in a hurry.
"As you're projecting the player and who you're going to get off the field, when you see a guy who has had to do that, you kind of know there's a sense of stability there," Opara said. "He knows what responsibility is all about, and he's going to hit the ground running and may not have some of the hiccups that some of the guys without that background may have."
Lowe's former Head Coach Lovie Smith told mystateline.com that Lowe's leadership and maturity are beyond his years.
"He has responsibility with a family, so he takes everything seriously," said Smith. "If you look at someone who sets a perfect example for the young guys, there's nobody better than him."
Asked about his leadership, Lowe explained it comes from within, and he tries to translate the leadership he's developed as a father to the football field.
"Not wanting to, you know, see my household fail, and wanting to put my household in the best position possible. I want to do the same with my teammates and team," Lowe said. "I think that went hand in hand, with me maturing and becoming a father and a husband helped me become a leader on the field, as well. That's definitely how I stepped into that role.
"I didn't really try to pattern my leadership techniques after anyone," he added. "I kind of carry myself how I'm a father to my children and how I expect a lot out of my kids. That's how I went into practice, just expecting more out of my teammates, just as I'm expecting more out of myself."
Analyst Lance Zierlein projected Lowe as a fifth-round pick and wrote the following of him for NFL.com:
Offensive line prospect who checks multiple boxes in both the traits and intangibles categories. Evaluators are sure to love Lowe's personal character as well as his measurables. He's big, strong and long but needs to play with better hand accuracy and technique to fully unlock those traits. Bend and athleticism are both strengths for Lowe, who is a scheme-independent talent. He's allowed too many pressures and sacks during his career but has the tools for rapid improvement with a few coaching fixes. Lowe is worthy of middle-round consideration as a swing tackle with guard potential.
The 184th overall pick was obtained from the Jets last fall as part of a deal in which Minnesota acquired former tight end Chris Herndon and that selection in exchange for a fourth-round pick.
Vikings Add Michigan State WR Jalen Nailor
The Vikings used their second pick of the sixth round to select receiver Jalen Nailor out of Michigan State at the 191st overall spot.
Nailor totaled 86 receptions for 1,454 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Spartans.
Nicknamed "Speedy," Nailor ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 186 pounds on his NFL.com bio, Nailor arrived in East Lansing after having starred in football (an All-State selection) and as a state-champion sprinter at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.
Nailor watched the draft from his residence in Las Vegas. He said he didn't partake in any of the draft festivities this weekend, but family members did.
"This weekend has been kind of long," Nailor said. "Once I got that call, everything is changed, man. Happiness, cheers going around, just me and my family out here right now, and that's how I'm spending my time and spending this day with."
Nailor overcame injuries early in his career, but he broke through with 515 yards in 2020 when he averaged 19.8 yards per reception in starting all seven games of a season shortened by COVID-19. He returned this fall and helped the Spartans start 2021 strongly, recording 37 catches for 695 yards and six scores.
View photos of Michigan State WR Jalen Nailor who was selected No. 191 overall in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Vikings Director of College Scouting Mike Sholiton said one of Nailor's most impressive aspects is what he does after the catch.
"[Vikings receivers coach] Keenan McCardell always talks about a guy that can ring the ball, and Jalen scored six touchdowns this year, 12 in his career," Sholiton said. "One of the things that people probably don't know about him is Michigan State, coming out 8-0 in games that he started, then he got hurt, came back for the bowl game, and knocked it out of the park in the bowl game. So he's a winner, scores touchdowns, and glad to add him into the mix."
Zierlein wrote the following of Nailor, who grew up in Palmdale, California, before heading to Las Vegas:
Speedy outside target with field-stretching talent who has been beset by injuries in three separate seasons. Nailor is sudden but smooth with his route release and his gliding gait tends to mask his acceleration, allowing him to climb quickly past the coverage. While he can work deep, he has the agility and body control to become a more effective route specialist on all three levels. Nailor is a competitor but has some trouble winning battles against stronger, physical corners. Teams will need to weigh the playmaking speed against the injury background, but Nailor has the talent to become an NFL backup.