4 bold predictions for the Vikings during the 2021 NFL Draft

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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) Jaelan Phillips /

Vikings will choose Phillips over Paye

This does not appear to be the deepest class ever for defensive linemen. This is probably why the Vikings invested so heavily in Dalvin Tomlinson to prise him away from the New York Giants, but their need for another dynamic edge rusher to put opposite Danielle Hunter cannot be ignored.

Many draft analysts have the Vikings going with Michigan’s edge prospect Kwity Paye either at No. 14 overall or via trade down a little lower down the pecking order. While his physical attributes are there for all to see, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Minnesota go with someone else who could have perhaps even more upside.

The player in question is Jaelan Phillips, who finally started living up to his potential at Miami following his transfer from UCLA in 2020 and is arguably the best pass-rusher entering the NFL this year.

A former five-star recruit out of high school, Phillips proved beyond all doubt he has what it takes to become a prolific player at the next level last season, recording eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in just 10 games for the Hurricanes.

Phillips has the perfect combination of size, length, and explosiveness to call upon. Providing there are improvements from a technical standpoint during the early stages of his development, someone is going to have an exceptional player on their hands.

There are some injury concerns to consider. But taking Phillips ahead of Paye is not out of the question if the Vikings decide that a defensive end should be priority No. 1.