Undrafted Vikings Rookie Gets Some National Attention
Dede Westbrook signed with the Minnesota Vikings over the weekend, granting the team its first legitimate WR3 since Jarius Wright departed in the spring of 2018.
This was momentous news as fans of the team clamored for Westbrook – or anybody prolific wide receiver to catch balls next to Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson – for months. Now, wearing #89, Westbrook reunites with Keenan McCardell, Minnesota’s new wide receivers coach, who mentored Westbrook in Jacksonville for four seasons.
Before the transaction, onlookers of the Vikings wondered who could reasonably play WR3 in 2021 as general manager Rick Spielman had yet to sign Westbrook. The usual suspects included Chad Beebe, Bisi Johnson, and rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Those players now have an uphill battle to dethrone Westbrook, but anything can happen as the ex-Jaguar hopes to bounce back from a torn ACL he suffered early in the pandemic season.
But Bleacher Report reminded us not to forget Whop Philyor, an undrafted rookie wide receiver from the University of Indiana. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report detailed the best undrafted rookies heading into camp for each NFL team, and it is Philyor for the Vikings. Knox wrote:
Former Indiana receiver Whop Philyor could make a bid for early playing time with a strong camp. Though a tad undersized at 5’11” and 181 pounds, he has the physical traits to succeed at the pro level.
“I’m sure teams would like for him to carry a little more weight on his frame, but he’s certainly not lacking in toughness,” Zierlein wrote.”Philyor is more than willing to work into the teeth of the defense underneath, but also has the acceleration to blow past unsuspecting off-man coverage and stretch the field from the slot.”
With Jefferson and Thielen commanding defensive attention downfield, Philyor could become a major factor over the middle and on underneath routes. In eight games with the Hoosiers last season, he caught 54 passes for 495 yards and three touchdowns.
While it would be wonderful for Philyor to bust through the Thielen-Jefferson-Westbrook-Beebe-Johnson blockade based on sheer performance, it is unlikely Philyor makes the 53-man roster. He’s more in line with the type of player that works his way up from the practice squad – simply because the Vikings WR spots are spoken for. Stranger things have occurred, but Philyor on the 2021 Vikings is a longshot.
A slot receiver by trade, Philyor was scouted by The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabb, who said, “[Whop] is a creative, bursty slot receiver prospect who should certainly find a way to carve himself a niche role within an NFL offense. Philyor, who earned the nickname “Whop” at a young age for his affinity for Burger King’s Whoppers, brings creative skills with the ball in his hands and an effective level of burst and explosiveness in the open field—which has warranted Indiana scheming him a slew of different looks to manufacture touches and get him the football.”
That sounds fun, using a gadget-like player inside new offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak’s offense. The Vikings usually avoid outright trickery, at least under head coach Mike Zimmer. If son Kubiak decided to change the offensive culture, then Philyor may become a useful commodity.
All in all, don’t bank on Philyor as anything more than an intriguing dude to watch at training camp. For now.