Vikings take Oklahoma G Dru Samia in fourth round, USC LB Cameron Smith in fifth
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The NFL draft began with the Vikings beefing up the offensive line, and they didn’t stop there.
Two days after selecting North Carolina State center-guard Garrett Bradbury with the No. 18 pick in the first round, Minnesota picked up two more linemen on Saturday’s final day of the draft.
The Vikings traded up in the fourth round to take Oklahoma guard Dru Samia with the No. 114 pick. They added Elon guard Olisaemeka Udoh in the sixth round with the No. 193 pick.
“We wanted to come in and try to improve that area,’’ Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said of the line. “I think the guys we drafted were very specific to what we were going to do from a schematic standpoint, and that’s what we wanted to do to make sure that we were matching up the traits of the players to the scheme we’re going to run.’’
The Vikings made six trades in the three-day draft and had 12 selections, their most since the NFL went to a seven-round draft in 1994.
Only one of the deals led to moving up. The Vikings really wanted Samia, so they sent the No. 120 pick in the fourth round and the No. 204 selection in the sixth round to Seattle to move up six spots in the fourth.
The Vikings made one other deal Saturday. They traded with New England to move down three spots from No. 159 to No. 162 in the fifth round and took Southern California linebacker Cameron Smith. They also got a seventh-round pick in the deal.
Other Minnesota selections Saturday were in the sixth round, Arkansas defensive tackle Armon Watts (No. 190 overall) and Wyoming safety Marcus Epps (No. 191), and in the seventh round, Texas cornerback Kris Boyd (No. 217), Oregon wide receiver Dillon Mitchell (No. 239), Colorado State receiver Olabisi Johnson (No. 247) and Air Force long snapper Austin Cutting (No. 250).
“Had a lot of draft picks (Saturday),’’ Spielman said. “All we’re looking for is just like at every other position is to bring the best players in and create as much competition as we can.’’
In addition to taking Bradbury on Thursday, the Vikings had on Friday selected tight end Irv Smith Jr. in the second round and running back Alexander Mattison in the third round. This marked the first time since 1965 that the Vikings’ first four draft selections all were on offense.
“We need to run the ball,’’ Spielman said. “We need to be better on offense, and that’s where we needed the help.’’
Samia said his agent told him before the draft the Vikings really liked him, so the guard had been studying up on Minnesota.
“Throughout this entire process, I was kind of thinking, ‘Minnesota’s probably going to be the spot,’ ’’ Samia said. “I didn’t know anything about Minnesota to begin with. I was like, ‘Where is Minneapolis?’ ”
Samia is very athletic. He played on a talented offensive line that protected Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Kyler Murray, who went to Arizona with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Four of those offensive linemen were taken in the first four rounds.
Samia played right guard the past two seasons after being a right tackle the two before that. He said he “probably 100 percent” will be a guard with the Vikings.
“I’m very excited to join this franchise and take this offensive line where it needs to be,’’ Samia said.
Samia is expected to fit in well with the Vikings’ new zone blocking scheme. So could the 6-foot-5, 336-pound Udoh.
“Because of the weight that I have, you wouldn’t expect me to be as quick as I am,’’ Udoh said. “Just being able to be my size and move the way I’ve been moving the past couple of months with those games and my season, I think definitely helped this whole process of getting me to be a Viking.’’
Spielman said it was a “huge competitive advantage’’ that the Vikings were able to closely evaluate Udoh and Watts at the East-West Shrine Game in January since several Minnesota coaches were part of the game staff.
Spielman said the Vikings traded down before taking Smith because there was a lot of depth at linebacker. Smith is not regarded as a great athlete but is considered a reliable run defender.
“I can’t wipe the smile off my face,’’ Smith said. “I’m just excited and can’t wait to get (to Minnesota).’’
Smith believes having played in a similar defensive scheme at USC will help him.
“I just feel like it was meant to be,’’ he said of going to the Vikings.
Of the 12 players Minnesota selected in the draft, seven play offense, four defense and one special teams. All are expected to attend a May 3-5 rookie minicamp.