‘Voice of Vikings’ Paul Allen High on Newcomer

Nov 11, 2022; Munich, Germany; Large helmets of NFL teams at fan activation event at Odeonsplatz. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings opened training camp this week in Eagan, which is a fancy way of saying every player is on track for a breakout season and few can do any wrong.

‘Voice of Vikings’ Paul Allen High on Newcomer

Performers like Jalen Nailor, Jaren Hall, and Jordan Addison have already turned heads at camp as the Vikings hope to stave off regression from an unforeseen 13-4 season in 2022.

Included in the obligatory training camp hype train is Josh Oliver, a free-agent tight end signed as TE2 in March, and he was praised this week by the ‘Voice of the Vikings,’ Paul Allen.

Paul Allen High
Vikings TE Josh Oliver on March 16th, 2023, in Eagan, Minnesota. Oliver signed with the Vikings as a free agent from the Baltimore Ravens for three years and $21 million.

Allen tweeted Thursday, “I’m OBSESSED w/ new Vikings TE Josh Oliver. Appears to be quite the dangerous man when on the run. Don’t @ me. #kfanvikes.

Many Vikings fans scratched their heads four months ago when the team signed Oliver, chiefly because Minnesota was ‘set’ at two spots — tight end and offensive tackle — heading into free agency. And to start free agency, the Vikings very first acquisition was a tight end, Oliver, and folks wondered, “What are they doing?”

High on
Baltimore Ravens tight end Josh Oliver (84) spikes the ball after a touchdown score as tight end Mark Andrews (89) looks on and Jacksonville Jaguars safety Andre Cisco (5) is slow to get up after an attempted stop during the fourth quarter of a regular season NFL football matchup Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Jaguars edged the Ravens 28-27. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

Well, with the Ravens, Oliver specialized in run-blocking — almost by default because that’s what they do in Baltimore — and the move implied the Vikings plan to run the ball more this season. That theory has since been substantiated by head coach Kevin O’Connell, RB1 Alexander Mattison, and others.

Oliver can actually catch the ball, too, and in fact, his scouting report coming out of college four years ago stated he was a poor run blocker and adept pass catcher. Fast forward to now, and folks, for some reason, believe the opposite about Oliver.

Do the Unexpected
Sep 18, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Josh Oliver (84) reacts during the game against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

What does Oliver bring to the Vikings offense, so much so that the Voice of the Vikings is giddy? Well, a few things. First, the aforementioned run-blocking is a big deal for a team that ran the ball third least per playcalling percentage in 2022. Minnesota battled time of possession woes last year, mainly because they enjoyed passing — like all the time. Implementing Oliver in the offense suggests the Vikings can indeed run the rock more frequently.

Minnesota can also toss two tight ends on the field — whenever. Last year, Irv Smith Jr. was oft-injured, so if the Vikings wanted to run 2-TE sets, T.J. Hockenson and Johnny Mundt were summoned. Now, O’Connell can deploy Hockenson and Oliver.

Nov 27, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Josh Oliver (84) leaps for a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports.

Finally, Oliver hedges the bet to any possible Hockenson injury. The Vikings TE1 is fairly durable, but if he were to miss a few games, fans need not utterly panic while switching to Oliver for a few games. The former Raven has the gumption to man TE1 duties indefinitely.

To date, Oliver has tallied 26 receptions for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns throughout his career. Based on the Vikings prowess for throwing the football and reports like Allen’s, those numbers can rise in 2023.

Oliver is 6’5″ and 260 pounds.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.