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Xs & Os: Baldinger Says Wyatt Davis 'Looks the Part' in College Film

EAGAN, Minn. — No team has invested more Day 1 or Day 2 picks on the offensive line in the past four NFL Drafts than the Vikings.

Minnesota's use of a first-round pick on left tackle Christian Darrisaw and third-round selection on guard Wyatt Davis this spring made it a league-leading five total selections of offensive linemen by Minnesota since 2018 when right tackle Brian O'Neill was tabbed in the second round.

Center Garrett Bradbury (first round) was added in 2019, and Minnesota drafted Ezra Cleveland, who is working at left guard with the first-team, in the second round in 2020.

The Falcons and Dolphins have each used four selections, 10 teams have picked three, and 18 teams have selected two offensive linemen in that timeframe. The Seahawks have only drafted an offensive lineman once (third round, 2020) in the first two nights of a draft since 2018.

NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger, who appeared in 143 games with the Cowboys, Colts and Eagles, took notice of Minnesota's investment in the position group.

We checked in with Baldinger, who is known on Twitter for his "#BaldysBreakdowns," to ask the analyst how Davis might help the Vikings.

"It's pretty easy to watch No. 52 at Ohio State the last few years — a lot of big games," Baldinger said. "He was a fixture at right guard. He's got long arms, a thick base. He looks the part."

View photos of Ohio State G Wyatt Davis who was selected in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Player Profile: Wyatt Davis, Ohio State,redshirt junior

Davis started the final 24 games he played for the Buckeyes, including all eight of a shortened 2020 season. He served as a team captain last fall and became the first Ohio State guard to win the Big Ten Conference's Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year award.

A two-time First-Team All-America selection by The Associated Press, Davis blossomed and lived up to the hype he earned in high school and his pedigree.

Davis was ranked as one of the Top 25 overall players and the No. 1 guard prospect in the nation by Rivals, 247Sports and Scout after playing tackle at St. John Bosco, which went a combined 38-5 from 2014-16.

He is continuing a family tradition as the grandson of Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Davis. The link between the two, Duane Davis, played collegiately at Missouri before launching his successful acting career that has included roles as a football player in "Beetlejuice," "Necessary Roughness" and "The Program."

2021 Outlook: Now rocking a 51 on his jersey instead of the 52 referenced by Baldinger, Davis has opened his first few practices as a pro by working at right guard with the second and third units.

Minnesota has moved Dakota Dozier, who started all 16 games at left guard in 2020, to the right of Bradbury. After flipping sides with Cleveland, Dozier will attempt to fend off Davis and other players for the starting gig.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was asked this week about what Darrisaw and Davis can show at this point to prove their readiness.

"If they're the best guy, they're going to play. It just depends on how soon that happens," Zimmer said.

"It's always a big jump when you come into the NFL from college, whether it's terminology and getting to know teammates and footwork, and the way the NFL, especially the NFL, is different, so sometimes that takes a little while.

"You can go through a lot of guys that may not have started the season there, but at some point you've got to get them in there if they're a talented guy and doing things right," Zimmer added. "Sometimes it's a baptism by fire, but you know that they're going to be better down the road, so they're competing. Once we get the pads on, they'll all be competing for that job, and we'll just see how it all shakes out."

Baldinger enjoyed what he saw from Davis back in 2019 when he was opening holes for J.K. Dobbins, who rushed for a whopping 2,003 yards and 21 scores on 301 rushes (6.7 yards per carry). Baltimore drafted Dobbins in the second round last year, and he delivered 805 yards and nine scores on 134 rushes as a rookie.

"Dobbins is excellent between the tackles … I watched him run behind No. 52, and he looks like he's running behind a Pro Bowl right guard," Baldinger said. "That's where I think [Davis] has the potential to go to, a Pro Bowl guard, right side or left side, depending on where the Vikings play him. That's what he looks like to me.

"He gets to the second level fine, moves people off the ball, manhandles people physically," Baldinger continued. "There's not a whole lot not to like about him, maybe, 'Can he run with guys as well as you'd like him to run with them?' Sometimes against elite quickness in athletes that he's going to see inside, you don't see those guys every Saturday in college football, so at some point he's going to have to get coached up and work on his steps just like everybody, but there's ways to improve that."

We asked Baldinger what "homework" he'd assign Davis to advance his development.

"With Wyatt, I think the really good guards in the league, if you're looking at a Joel Bitonio or a Quenton Nelson, you look at the elite guards in the league, they're pulling guards, they run power," Baldinger said. "I think Minnesota wants to be a power football team, pull [its] guards, so if I was Wyatt, I would learn how to pull right and left without giving anything away. I would have the same stance and depth without giving up my pull.

"He's in Minnesota, so you're going to go up against some elite defensive tackles like [Chicago's] Akiem Hicks," Baldinger added. "If [Hicks] sees you leaning or changing your body weight, he's going to read all of that and know what you're doing before you know what you're doing, so I'd really work on just having one stance and being able to do everything out of it."

Coachspeak: "Wyatt's got terrific size, he's got good movement, seems to be catching on really well with footwork and the things that we're doing, and he looks good in there so far."

— Zimmer during rookie minicamp

Film Breakdown: Former Vikings player and coach Pete Bercich, now a Vikings Radio Network analyst, looked at some of Davis' tape from Ohio State.

Bercich saw a "mauler in the classic sense" who brings intensity at the snap and maintains it through the whistle.

"Anyone who has played this game or has played offensive line at any time in their life will love the way that this young man plays football," the former linebacker said before diving into an array of run and pass plays.

"This is a zone play on the front side [against Michigan State]. You've got all the offensive linemen elephant blocking to the right," Bercich said. "As soon as he gets out in space and realizes there's no one out in front, he looks on the back side, and this linebacker isn't ready for him. Bam! Puts the guy on the ground and then he puts him on the ground again. This is what I'm talking about, getting mean. Knock him down once, he tries to get back up, knock him down again, so that's the kind of attitude and power this guy has, and I love it."

Bercich also pointed to a zone block against Penn State on which Davis crossed in front of the nose tackle to create running room.

"In the zone scheme that the Vikings run, having to get left and right, he does a good job," Bercich said.

Davis' initial footwork and the way there's not a lot of "wasted movement" are attributes that Bercich liked.

An area that might "need a little work" is when it's time for Davis to "drop anchor" when in pass protection.

"He's doing it here but just needs to get a little stronger, bend those knees and get himself down a little quicker and more stout because that's the kind of rushes you're going to see out of these NFL defensive linemen," Bercich said. "On contact, his base is getting a little wide, so the fundamental side, the footwork, bending his knees, playing a little lower, those are things he's going to have to master. Now, the kid is definitely tough enough and mean enough, and I love his chances of getting on the field and making an impact for the Vikings this year."