EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings drafted Minnesota defensive lineman Esezi Otomewo in the fifth round (with the 165th overall pick) of the 2022 NFL Draft last Saturday.
Props to UK-based Vikings fan Adam Lawther for his announcement of Otomewo's selection. Otomewo and the Vikings will head to the United Kingdom this season to play the Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in Week 4, the NFL and Vikings announced earlier today.
Here are five things to know about Otomewo:
1. Gophers to Vikings
Otomewo is from Indianapolis, but he said Minneapolis has become home to him since he first arrived in Dinkytown as a redshirt freshman in 2017.
His excitement of transitioning his football career to the next level in Minnesota could be heard and seen during his video press conference.
He rattled off a few restaurants — Blue Door, Ray J's and Shake Shack — that he'd plan to steer fellow draft classmates toward.
Otomewo became the 21st Gophers player ever drafted by the Vikings but the first since linebacker Nate Triplett (with the 167th overall pick) in 2010.
He was one of four Gophers drafted this year, along with Minnesota native Boye Mafe (40th overall by Seattle), Daniel Faalele (110th overall by Baltimore) and Ko Kieft (218th overall by Tampa Bay).
2. Adding size and position flexibility, too
Otomewo is listed at 6-foot-5 and 282 pounds on his NFL.com bio.
NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein wrote in a pre-draft profile that Otomewo is likely "best suited for a 4i or 5-technique in a 3-4 front."
The Vikings are transitioning to more 3-4 elements under Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell but are likely to be multiple with their fronts.
That's fine with Otomewo, who played multiple spots from the 5-tech down to more interior spots of the defensive line.
"We did a lot of sub packages where I was lined up everywhere. Doing that for the Vikings would be amazing, too," he said. "Wherever they need me is where I'll be."
Vikings Assistant Director of College Scouting Pat Roberts said coaches "did a really good job of letting [scouts] know they want some length and they want some power and still be able to do some pass rush things."
3. Peak performance
Otomewo's time at the University of Minnesota began as a redshirt in 2017. He had initially committed to attend Western Michigan but opted to accompany P.J. Fleck as he became the head coach of the Gophers.
Otomewo started 20 of 46 games, recording 81 tackles and 7.5 sacks in four seasons. He had a year of eligibility remaining when he declared for the 2022 NFL Draft in January.
Days earlier, Otomewo had finished his college career recording 2.0 sacks in Minnesota's 18-6 win over West Virginia before suffering a knee injury in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
4. Path of progress
Otomewo worked his way up, earning Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year in 2017 and Outstanding Defensive Freshman in 2018.
He garnered All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors in 2021 when he totaled 30 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and a safety in 13 starts.
Otomewo was invited to the Senior Bowl but was unable to participate as he recovered. He also was limited at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and Gophers Pro Day.
The Vikings hosted Otomewo for a visit to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
"We had him in here for a visit, and he showed great poise. He met with our coaches. He met with our scouts," Roberts said. "The flashes that we saw of him on tape, our coaches got an opportunity to speak with him and see what his ceiling might be. We're excited to get him here, and I think he's excited to be here as well."
5. Bond with Boye
Otomewo and Mafe grew incredibly close during their time as teammates.
Both redshirted in 2017 and helped each other progress to the point of becoming draft picks. They were aligned in their decision to enter the draft and are happy for each other.
"That's my brother for life," Otomewo said. "We push each other to the furthest extent, in the film room, on the practice field. I'd say even as a person we challenge each other just to be great as a whole. So coming to this moment and seeing Boye get drafted, it was amazing. It's dreams coming true. We talked about this, we prayed about this. We did everything together when we came to Minnesota, so I'd say this is a special moment for me and him."