Since Steve Hutchinson left the team after the 2011 season, the Vikings have been looking for a truly great interior guard. Over the course of their history, the purple and gold have had their fair share of great interior players. From Ed White to Randall McDaniel to David Dixon, there have been some really good and even hall of fame level players at the position. Once Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer took over, the position became somewhat of an afterthought.
To an extent, I agree with Spielman and Zimmer. I subscribe to the belief that guards don’t matter. What does that mean? Guards don’t matter is a philosophy where you don’t spend premium draft capital on a guard unless they are a transcendent player. The best example of that is Quenton Nelson, a player whose presence is not only intimidating to the defense, but also lifts the play of those around him. The Vikings have also subscribed to this method, but mainly using solely day 3 picks. When it comes to interior players, the sweet spot for them is with a day 2 selection.
This past October, I wrote about how to prioritize the guard position and what I found is that 6/10 highest paid guards were day 2 selections. Does that tell the whole story? I think it’s fair to say that it doesn’t, but it does give a good snapshot of where a good portion of the talent comes from. The Vikings agreed with my philosophy with the selection of Wyatt Davis at pick 86.
The number one guard recruit in the 2017 class, Wyatt Davis attended St. John Bosco High School and won a state championship his senior year. He even protected for future first round pick Josh Rosen during his high school career. Once he got onto campus, Davis redshirted his freshman season and followed up by playing in 36 games with 24 starts. Although he has a track record of good play, there is a slight injury concern. He injured his knee at the end of 2019 and re-injured it against Clemson in the college football playoff. Before the injury seemed to hurt his play this past season, there was some first-round hype surrounding Davis. What about his play warranted the hype? Let’s dive into his film.
A true interior offensive lineman, Wyatt Davis is a shade under 6’4″ and 315 lbs and is well built and thick. The best way to describe him is that he has sand in his pants. In pass protection, he is near impossible to move when engaged with the defender. His anchor is the best trait that he possesses. He uses his anchor and leverage to stand up the opponent and keep the pocket clean.
Davis knows how to move to the second level. He is a good North and South mover and climbs to the second level relatively clean. When he engages with the defender, Davis doesn’t lose. His hands are strong and powerful, greatly hindering the defender from disengaging. Along with his strong hands, Davis is really strong in his core, making it easy to block from many angles, including scoop blocks with ease. The power is evident throughout his reps, especially with his violent style finishing. He has an affinity to drive players into the ground and clubs them into oblivion.
While Davis excels using his strength, one thing that is lacking with him is movement skills. He is relatively stiff in his lower body and it shows when he gets beat. Has a tendency to not keep his feet moving once he starts losing a rep. Along with his stiffness, Davis oversets way too often. In doing so, he leaves himself prone to getting beat inside. In doing so, Davis lunges a lot at the defender, causing him to end up on the ground way too often.
One thing when talking about Davis as a Minnesota Vikings is the wide zone. You want your lineman to have the lateral quickness and agility to excel in those reach blocks and climb to the second level. When asked to block in a wide zone concept, Davis has shown some struggles. He doesn’t have great lateral quickness and can get caught up easily in traffic.
Overall, I think the Vikings got a solid player in Wyatt Davis. He truly excels in pass protection and keeps the pocket clean. While he isn’t the most agile, Davis can be capable in the wide zone. I believe an offseason working in the system along with getting his knee right will make a massive difference for his projection. If the Vikings took him in round 2, I think it would have been a good pick, but getting him at pick 86 feels like a steal. On the live draft stream, I thought that taking Quinn Meinerz or Trey Smith was the better play. I still stand by that take, however, Davis was still a quality selection and will help the Vikings as they work to solidify the offensive line for the first time since 2009.