The Illinois football team sent two offensive linemen from last season’s team to the NFL.
Illini Nation got to hear center Doug Kramer and tackle Vederian Lowe’s names get called during the 2022 NFL Draft.
Here are how former Illinois football linemen Doug Kramer and Vederian Lowe are doing heading into the NFL preseason.
Kramer is currently playing the “next man up” role with the Chicago Bears after starting center Lucas Patrick suffered a right hand injury during training camp.
Though Patrick’s injury likely won’t keep him away from the Bears’ season opener, he is likely going to miss most of training camp – giving Kramer plenty of vital experience in training camp and the Bears’ preseason slate.
Knowing the likelihood of immediately earning the starting gig is slim, Kramer is well aware of his role with the second team and credits the mindset he had while playing for the Orange and Blue.
"“I’ve worked to try to get to that point, and I’ve put in a lot of time studying the playbook and trying to understand things in great detail and depth so I can be a tool for the other guys on the offensive line,” Kramer told The Athletic.“And that’s a very similar mindset to what I had in Illinois, and I’m just trying to get back to that understanding of the level of detail that’s needed to be a center in this league.”"
During his five years with the Illini, Kramer started every game at center, when healthy. He consistently performed as one of the nation’s premier centers, notably setting the third-best true pass set blocking grade among power-five centers in 2018, according to Pro Football Focus.
Kramer will get his first opportunity at earning a potential starting nod when the Bears host the Kansas City Chiefs next Saturday at 12:00 p.m. CST to open up their preseason.
Like Kramer, Lowe got a major opportunity at the Minnesota Vikings’ practice on Wednesday.
Lowe moved up to the Vikings’ second-team offense at left tackle after a spot opened up.
In an analysis of the former Illini, former Vikings player and coach Pete Bercich claimed Lowe possesses traits that “coaches can’t teach,” citing his athleticism, great feet, and speed.
Along with his physical gifts, the Illini product says he has been working on the mental part of his NFL transition. Lowe told PurplePTSD he has focused on getting the playbook down, studying, and gearing his mind towards putting the right foods into his body.
Lowe will get his first shot to earn that second-team job when the Vikings visit the Las Vegas Raiders next Sunday at 3:25 p.m. CST.