Luiji Vilain could be the diamond NFL teams regret passing up

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Being one of college football’s biggest wild-card prospects ended with Luiji Vilain’s name not being called off the draft board. It’s a decision NFL teams could soon regret when seeing him line up in purple on Sundays.

The Minnesota Vikings would have been one of those teams if they failed to sign the former Wake Forest Demon Deacon as an undrafted rookie free agent, following the 2022 NFL draft. Instead, they now have a potential steal to join an already terrifying pass-rushing duo of Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith.

Vilain has a knack for making quarterbacks run like they’re being chased by Jason Voorhees in a forest—a perfect fit for an organization shrouded in the legend of the Purple People Eaters.

The Vikings want to get back to that same physical style of defense that once upon a time made them one of the most feared teams in football. A young, powerful and supremely athletic linebacker like Vilain could help them do exactly that.

A lack of sample size due to a long injury history is the biggest reason for Vilain going undrafted. He’s only appeared in 16 games throughout his entire collegiate tenure, which is near the equivalent of only one NFL season.

In his one and only year with Wake Forest, after leaving Michigan, he played in 12 games and finished with eight sacks, nine tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles.

Couple the potential for growth with an 8.83 Relative Athletic Score and it was off to the races with the Vikings signing him.

A notable pass-rushing coach told the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson, “[Vilain’s] potential is out of this world. He definitely has a crazy high ceiling. … The Vikings got a good one. … He’s going to play for a long time in the NFL and he’s going to do that at a high level.”

Vilain was only scratching the surface of his abilities in his final season with Wake Forest. Now, he’ll try to find the rest of his ceiling at the next level in 2022.

Don’t be surprised if it goes higher than you think.

The forgotten linebacker that fought his way back from adversity and made the rest of the NFL pay for passing on him—what a story that would be.

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Vikings' current 90-man roster by jersey number