5 prospects in play if the Vikings trade down in the first round

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) Rashod Bateman
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) Rashod Bateman /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Jaelan Phillips /

Jaelan Phillips – DE (Miami)

The Vikings need to find an edge rusher in the 2021 NFL Draft who could potentially start opposite Danielle Hunter. Ifeadi Odenigbo proved he isn’t that player last year, and while D.J. Wonnum could be, the jury is still out. The Vikings’ first-round choice could very well be used on a pass rusher and a player they could look at if they move down the board is Miami’s, Jaelen Phillips.

Phillips doesn’t have the long, lean, sexy build of Gregory Rousseau or his top-end athletic ability, but the dude is 6-foot-5 and 266 pounds with arms that just about reach his ankles. He is quick off the snap and also possesses the power to fight through blocks on his way to the passer. He is an aggressive tackler who once he gets ball carriers in his tentacle-like grip, they aren’t going anywhere.

Phillips transferred to Miami after a couple of seasons at UCLA. He has had a lengthy injury history, including a severe wrist injury, ankle sprains, and three concussions that forced him to retire for a brief time. He did return to football in 2020 and racked up eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss, playing injury-free for 10 games.

There’s plenty of risk with Phillips as far as the medical history goes, but the Vikings could take a gamble on him late in the first round, especially if they are able to acquire a second-round choice in the process.