Somewhere in Norman, Okla., there’s one seriously lucky restaurateur who’s about to be chosen to feed 1,253 pounds of NFL draft picks.
“I’m trying to pick somewhere expensive,” said the Vikings’ newest guard, Dru Samia, one of four Oklahoma offensive linemen looking to celebrate being selected in the first four rounds this year.
Chosen to foot the bill was tackle Cody Ford, the biggest of the batch at 6-4, 329 pounds. He also was taken highest when Buffalo used a second-round pick to select him 38th overall.
“He went high,” Samia said. “So it’s not my money.”
The other “little” fellas drafted, in order, were 6-4, 312-pound tackle Bobby Evans, a third-rounder taken 97th by the Rams; Samia, a 6-5, 305-pound fourth-rounder taken 114th; and another fourth-rounder, guard Ben Bowers, a 6-4, 307-pounder taken 123rd by the Ravens.
It would have been an NFL fivesome, but center Creed Humphrey wasn’t draft eligible as a redshirt freshman.
“A lot of people come in to college and are like, ‘We’re going to come in, and we’re going to ball out and get drafted,’ ” said Samia, who started 43 games at right guard and five at right tackle. “But it’s rare that you can have that whole group do that.”
The only unit in the country that topped it was Clemson’s defensive line. All four players were selected, with three going in the first round and one in the fourth.
For a Vikings team desperate to bolster its offensive line, this draft marked only the fourth time in franchise history that it used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman and then followed it up with another offensive lineman in the next three rounds. The last time they did it was 2002, when they took Bryant McKinnie in the first round and Edward Ta’amu in the fourth.
“The guys we drafted on the offensive line were very specific to what we’re going to do from a schematic standpoint,” said Spielman, who drafted a third lineman, Olisaemeka Udoh of Elon, in the sixth round. “We wanted to make sure we’re matching up the traits of the players with the scheme that we’re going to run.
“[Samia] was an unbelievable interview at the combine. And maybe one of the toughest competitors we’ve seen on tape in terms of how he finishes. He has a few technical flaws he needs to clean up, but we think that’s correctable with coaching.”
First-round pick Garrett Bradbury should be a Day 1 starter at center. The initial thought is Samia was drafted for depth purposes, but he shouldn’t be entirely dismissed as a potential starter at guard.
For starters, Pat Elflein struggled at center last year and will likely be moved to left guard. And veteran Josh Kline isn’t exactly a lock to start at right guard.
Yes, Kline has got plenty of experience. But the former Tennessee Titan also is a guy still in his 20s who signed a four-year contract extension on March 14, 2018, played 16 games and was released on March 15, 2019. Call that an ample-sized red flag.
Samia, meanwhile, comes to Minnesota billed as having the athleticism to execute the new outside-zone run game and the nastiness coach Mike Zimmer wants in an offensive lineman.
“I’m very comfortable,” Samia said when asked about the Vikings’ scheme. “Of all the NFL coaches that I was talking to, they said that I was more of a zone scheme guy. I’ll just trust the NFL expertise.”
Samia allowed only five sacks in 1,675 college passing snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. He was second-team All-America, first-team All-Big 12, blocked for back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners drafted No. 1 overall and was part of a unit that paved the way for an NCAA-leading 48.4 points per game.
And, oh yeah, that unit also won last year’s Joe Moore Award, a 7-foot, 800-pound trophy given to the nation’s top college offensive line.
Of all the teams Samia talked to before the draft, he said the best vibe came from the Vikings. He was proven right when Spielman traded up six spots to take him.
“I was always thinking like, ‘Man, Minnesota is probably going to be the spot,’ ” Samia said. “I was even looking up things. I didn’t know anything about Minnesota to begin with. So, I was like, ‘Man, where is Minneapolis? How much does it cost to live there?’ Stuff like that. I have been planning to be in Minneapolis for a long time. I’m excited it came to a head.”