The Vikings under Mike Zimmer and DL coach Andre Patterson have done an excellent job of identifying undervalued edge talent in the draft and turning those players into contributors. Ifeadi Odenigbo, a former 7th round pick out of Northwestern, is the latest player to impress at the position for the team.
Odenigbo has had an impressive preseason so far playing with the second team against the Saints and Seahawks. In one stretch, he had 5 plays in a row where he defeated the opposing LT, racking up a forced holding call, a sack, and a tackle in the process. As a bonus, DL coach Andre Patterson was on Mike Tice’s podcast this week to talk about Ifeadi’s progression. Watch and listen below:
There’s a lot to like in those five reps. Odenigbo wins on two bull rushes, knocking the OT over backwards and forcing a hold on the first. He’s able to turn the corner and get to the QB, with nice wherewithal to swipe at the ball as he hits Paxton Lynch. After he wins with a speed rush, he comes back and counters inside. Fear of a speed rush caused the LT to set too far outside, and Odenigbo gets a nice inside track, easily crossing the face of the tackle and dismissing his hands.
In 2018, the Vikings were asking Odenigbo to bulk up and play inside at DT. When he eventually got cut, he went to Cleveland for a stint before returning to the team on the stipulation that he would be playing on the edge. However, I believe his time inside has served him well, as you can see the increase in strength and power in run defense compared to the time when he was a 258lb pass rush specialist at Northwestern.
Odenigbo has heavy hands, shocking the offensive linemen he faced on first contact and visibly knocking their pads back. He shows good hand usage, getting his hands inside on the tackle’s chest, kept good pad level, and put the opposing offensive lineman on the ground on multiple occasions.
While Odenigbo was a raw prospect coming out of school, he has clearly advanced technically since arriving in the NFL. He has show multiple instances of good hand usage this preseason:
In the first play, he initially reads run and set a hard edge, but has great hand position and throws the LT to the ground once he realizes it’s a pass. On the second play, he dominates the offensive lineman with a technique similar to a snatch and trap. On the third play, he does a great job getting his hands inside to create separation from the tackle than rip as he’s turning the corner for the sack. As a bonus, he swipes at the football, and I have no clue how Teddy holds on to it.
Athleticism is a necessary component for edge rushers and is the key to the Vikings’ success with late round players. They have been able to take technically raw players who have the requisite athletic traits and mold them into technically sound players that are also great athletes.
While not the super athlete that Danielle Hunter is, Odenigbo had strong athletic testing across the board. He appears to have added weight since that time, but the athleticism remains, and can be seen in the plays below:
On the first play, you see a nice edge bend. On the second play, you see the quickness and suddenness on the move inside. On the third play, you see him defeat a cut block to get in on the tackle.
Overall, Odenigbo has had a great first two preseason games this year. He has shown many very promising signs, including power as a bull rusher, heavy hands and the strength to hold up against the run, good technique and hand usage to defeat opposing offensive linemen, and the athleticism to win with speed and in a variety of other scenarios. He appears on track to become a contributor in the Vikings’ defensive line rotation this season and could develop into even more beyond it.