Minnesota Vikings 2020 NFL Draft profile: A.J Epenesa – DE

(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) A.J. Epenesa
(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) A.J. Epenesa /
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(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) A.J. Epenesa
(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) A.J. Epenesa /

The Minnesota Vikings are in need of pass-rushing depth heading into the 2020 NFL Draft and A.J. Epenesa could be the man they are looking for.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. recently projected the Minnesota Vikings to take former Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa with the No. 25 selection in the 2020 NFL Draft next month.

This would add another formidable pass-rushing option to a Vikings defensive line that will be without the services of veteran Everson Griffen, who ended a 10-year stint with the organization during free agency.

Minnesota still boasts plenty of weapons to get after the quarterback that will stand them in good stead, but more options are needed.

Epenesa enjoyed a phenomenal college career with the Hawkeyes and he has further enhanced his prospects of a high-end draft selection during the evaluation process. He is a dominant presence at the line of scrimmage and he has the ability to wreak havoc on every down.

Pairing Epensa with Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter and the improving Ifeadi Odenigbo would be useful tools for co-defensive coordinators Adam Zimmer and Andre Patterson to call upon next season.

A.J. Epenesa – DE (Iowa)

Height: 6-foot-5 | Weight: 275lbs


  • Next-level power
  • Speedy for his size
  • Possesses ruthless aggression
  • Heavy hands
  • Great instincts
  • Comes up big in pressure situations
  • Can plug gaps on run defense
  • Impressive motor


  • Athleticism
  • Mobility
  • Lateral movement
  • Plays tight
  • Needs to improve pass-rushing repertoire

Why he could rise:

Epenesa is one of the best defensive ends available in this year’s NFL Draft. Former Ohio State phenom Chase Young tops the list, but the former Iowa pass rusher is arguably the best of the rest.

He enjoyed a phenomenal final two seasons in college, accumulating 30.5 tackles for loss, 22 sacks, eight forced fumbles, and seven pass deflections. This sort of production is highly sought after at the next level and it could see Epenesa move into top-15 consideration if a team likes what they see on tape.

Why he could fall:

The defensive end does need some work on refining certain areas of his pass-rushing. This could see him drop slightly if certain teams are looking for more from a player at that position.

It would be hugely surprising to see Epenesa fall out of the top 40 picks this year. But stranger things have happened on draft day and he could represent a steal if this scenario plays out.

NFL Draft projection:

There is plenty to like about Epenesa’s ability to take his talents to the next level. He is highly productive and he has all the right characteristics an NFL team is looking for in a prospect.

He has first-round skills and if he could brush up certain areas of his skill-set, then anyone who drafts him is going to have a considerable talent on their hands. One would expect Epenesa to come into play anywhere from the No.15 pick onwards depending on certain teams’ needs for immediate help.

Projection: Mid-to-late first round