Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman used just one of his draft weekend trades to move up, and that was to grab Oklahoma guard Dru Samia in the fourth round.
Matthew Coller of SKOR North honed in on Samia and the “remarkable group of success stories” from other Oklahoma offensive linemen, which has earned the program the nickname “Offensive Line University.” Coller wrote:
If you created an offensive line purely out of players who went to Oklahoma, you’d have a strong case for being the NFL’s best blocking team.
Before this year’s draft, the group of successful ex-Sooners starters in the NFL already included the likes of Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson, Washington left tackle Trent Williams, Carolina Panthers right tackle Daryl Williams and Baltimore Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown.
All four of Oklahoma’s draft-eligible starting offensive linemen were tabbed this year: Cody Ford (38th overall), Bobby Evans (97th), Samia (114) and Ben Powers (122nd).
Coller spoke with Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, who said the draft is “a special deal” for those athletes who get selected.
Bedenbaugh has been with the Sooners since 2013 and was bumped up to O-line coach/co-offensive in 2017. He began his career at Oklahoma Panhandle State University in 1995 and worked for Valdosta State, Central Michigan, Ferris State, Texas Tech, Arizona and West Virginia before landing in Oklahoma.
“Being an O-line coach you want your guys to be known for something,” Bedenbaugh told Coller in reference to the nickname. “What we’re going to be known for is playing physical, playing tough, finishing, playing the game the right way.”
According to Coller, Bedenbaugh’s method of “creating a star-studded offensive line” starts with the recruiting process and bringing in “the right types of personalities.”
“We try to, the best we can, find guys who are going to play like that on tape in high school. It’s not always easy,” Bedenbaugh said. “Guys can develop it some, but I don’t know how much you can truly develop it. We’re fortunate to have a culture where that’s expected and that’s how you’re supposed to play, and if you don’t play like that you’re probably not going to play here.”
Aside from building NFL bodies, Bedenbaugh is trying to develop NFL minds. Oklahoma’s linemen work to grasp not only their own position and blocking techniques but the bigger picture of how and why plays come together.
“They understand formations, they understand defenses, they understand play concepts and what we’re trying to accomplish within the play so they’re really, really football smart,” Bedenbaugh told Coller. “That’s another thing I think that will give them an edge when they get there because I don’t know that everybody else teaches the way that we do here.”
Coller wrote that he expects plenty of competition for the interior of Minnesota’s offensive line and expects Samia to provide additional depth for the Vikings this season “with the potential to become another one of O-line University’s quality NFL starters down the road.”
Vikings COO Kevin Warren featured as ACES keynote speaker
This year’s ACES4Kids Gala was hosted at U.S. Bank Stadium and featured two special guests connected to the Vikings organization.
Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren headlined the event as the keynote speaker and recognized longtime Minnesota sports personality Mark Rosen, who recently retired from WCCO.
The evening benefited ACES (Athletes Committed to Educating Students), an “out-of-school-time program that focuses on using sports as a hook to get kids excited about math and social-emotional learning.”
ACES provides project-based curriculum for low-income students in grades 4-8 in the Twin Cities.