Have the Vikings found their next diamond in the rough?

(Photo by Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) Luiji Vilain
(Photo by Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) Luiji Vilain /

The Minnesota Vikings had a questionable yet productive 2022 NFL Draft. But what if the best player they landed was undrafted Wake Forest pass rusher Luiji Vilain?

If you are a Minnesota Vikings fan, you may want to learn the name Luiji Vilain. A 6-foot-4 pass rusher out of Wake Forest, Vilain was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent earlier this year.

Usually, being a UDFA doesn’t bring much weight, as they are players who may not even make the final roster cut. But things with Vilain could be very different.

Vilain is a native of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and he only began playing organized football as a junior in high school when he moved to Virginia. During his junior and senior seasons in high school, he accumulated 105 tackles and 12.5 sacks, which was enough to get the attention of the University of Michigan.

Could former Wake Forest pass rusher Luiji Vilain be the next great Minnesota Vikings UDFA?

His career at Michigan derailed quickly, as he missed his first two seasons with differing knee injuries, and then he only played in a combined 12 games over his final two years at the school.

Vilain then transferred to Wake Forest University, and in his first healthy season with 14 games played, he produced 34 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and nine sacks.

It was a very impressive season for Vilain, who showed off the potential that he had flashed years prior. But with only one good season out of the five that he was in college, teams did not make the call for him on draft day this year, and he found himself as an undrafted free agent.

Vilain eventually received calls from teams looking to sign him after the draft, but when the Vikings made the call to him, he knew that’s where he needed to be.

Now Vilain has a chance to show off his ability, and for a position that Minnesota is desperately needing depth for.

While his physical attributes should have fans very excited (4.75-second 40-yard dash time, 9-foot-10 broad jump distance, 79-inch wingspan), it’s what others are saying about him that creates the most excitement.

His college roommate at Michigan and rising NFL star, Kwity Paye, has always spoken very highly about Vilain, saying that “if there’s a harder working person than me, I would say it’s Luiji.”

That is high praise from Paye, who was taken 21st overall in the 2021 draft, and he had a strong rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts.

Paye is not the only person around the game who speaks in high regard for Vilain, as notable NFL pass-rushing coach Nate O’Neal said that the young defender’s potential is “out of this world.”

There is already growing hype around the 24-year-old Canadian, and with some of the high praise he has received, it’s hard not to feed into the excitement.

Vilain has the potential to be something special, and there’s just something about undrafted players in Minnesota that just helps them tap into their potential even more (see John Randle and Adam Thielen).

If Vilain can produce at the level he’s being talked up to, he could end up being one of the best players from Minnesota’s 2022 rookie class, and they didn’t even have to use a pick to get him.

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