Mar 3, 2021; Columbus, OH, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Wyatt Davis (51). Mandatory Credit: Joshua A. Bickel / Columbus Dispatch-USA TODAY NETWORK
After a disappointing rookie campaign, Wyatt Davis is excited to meet his new head coach and no doubt eager to impress.
At one time, Wyatt Davis was seen as a first-round talent. He was regularly mock-drafted to the Minnesota Vikings as their first-round selection. Finishing his college career playing on a knee injury, his draft stock plummetted. The Vikings would eventually select him in the third round of the 2021 NFL draft. It looked like it could be a steal. I was one of many who was excited by him coming in at the right guard position as an immediate upgrade to a position that has been a serious issue for this team in recent seasons.
Mike Zimmer and his coaches had other ideas.
Famously unwilling to trust his rookies, the right guard job went to Oli Udoh, another offensive tackle the Vikings tried to convert into a guard. Udoh did show early promise, but I think that was partly because anything was better than Dakota Dozier and Dru Samia. The more we saw of Udoh, the more yellow flags we saw landing on the turf. Holding penalties were rife amongst the Vikings offensive line, and Udoh was the worst culprit. Because of this, tweeting these four simple words became a sort of running gag amongst Vikings fans on Twitter.
Holding offense, number 74 – I still hear those words in my nightmares.
His play was not great, but the penalties were infuriating. He tied with the Miami Dolphins tackle Austin Jackson for the most penalized player in 2021. They were both flagged for penalties on 13 occasions. As a result of Udoh’s penalties, the Vikings gave up 114 yards. Nine of his penalties were for offensive holding.
Despite that – and Rashod hill performing just as poorly at left tackle during Christian Darrisaw’s absence – plus Garrett Bradbury missing a couple of games due to Covid-19 and having another underwhelming season, Wyatt Davis never made it on the field for a single offensive snap.
There were calls from fans for him to get a chance, and questions even posed to Mike Zimmer in press conferences. He did not quite get the Kellen Mond treatment, but Zimmer was dismissive of any talk of Davis being given a chance.
All he has to show from his rookie year is 28 special teams snaps across six games. It’s no surprise then that Wyatt Davis is excited about the arrival of his new head coach. Hoping he might finally get his opportunity.
Davis also has a new offensive line coach to impress in Chris Kuper and assistant offensive line coach in Justin Rascati. It’s a clean slate for everybody under Kevin O’Connell, and it’s up to Davis to show what he can do. He has the chance to show everyone the former Vikings coaching staff were wrong to overlook him. Then hopefully, he will give our fans something to be excited about – a competent right guard.
There were reports that the former coaching staff believed him to be overweight and asked him to drop a reported seven pounds. Before joining up with his teammates in April, Davis plans to go for over a month’s training with offensive line guru Duke Manyweather. In a bid to make sure history does not repeat itself in Year 2.
I’m hoping Davis turns up with a chip on his shoulder and is hungry to prove his worth. His emergence into the starter I hoped for would be a big boost to the Vikings interior offensive line, leaving other resources available for the numerous other areas that need improvement on this team.