The Vikings entered Round 4 of the 2020 NFL Draft on Saturday with three picks: Nos. 117, 130 and 132.
Vikings Select South Carolina DE D.J. Wonnum with 117th Overall Pick | By Eric Smith
The Vikings selected edge rusher D.J. Wonnum in the fourth round (117th overall pick) in the 2020 NFL Draft on Saturday.
Wonnum, a senior out of South Carolina, measured in 6-foot-5 and 258 pounds.
"They must like guys who are about 6-foot- and 258 pounds … they already have Danielle Hunter on the roster," ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said of the selection. "This is a guy who has 34 and 1/8-inch arms … who is a combination 3-4 outside linebacker and 4-3 defensive end.
"He plays with tremendous heavy hands in the run game, and in the pass game, he has tremendous cornering speed," Riddick continued. "He has the ability to get to that high-side pad, use his hands and then close on the quarterback and finish.
"This is a tremendous value pick, in my opinion, because of the versatility he gives them," Riddick added. "And again, he's a guy in the mold of Danielle Hunter, which is exactly what [Vikings Head Coach] Mike Zimmer wants up there on defense."
Hunter, who was 6-5 and 252 pounds out of LSU in 2015, is now a two-time Pro Bowler who has recorded back-to-back, 14.5 seasons.
Wonnum said he's followed Hunter's illustrious start to his NFL career, and is also excited to work with Vikings Co-Defensive Coordinator/defensive line coach Andre Patterson.
"[I'm] very familiar [with Hunter] … he's a dawg, man," Wonnum said. "Coach Patterson saw something in me with some of the things he saw in Danielle Hunter.
"I'm just excited to learn from one of the best pass rushers in the league," Wonnum added.
View images of Vikings fourth round draft pick South Carolina DE D.J. Wonnum .
A team captain in 2019, Wonnum collected Second-Team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press after recording 37 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
Wonnum was also South Carolina's 2019 Comeback Player of the Year, as he was limited to just five games in 2018.
Wonnum appeared in 43 games with 30 starts in college, recording 137 career tackles with 14.0 sacks and 29.5 career tackles for loss.
The selection of Wonnum marked the first time in Vikings history that Minnesota selected at pick No. 117.
"I know the Vikings were really interested in me … me and Coach Patterson talked a lot at the combine," Wonnum said. "We kept in contact, and I'm just excited to be a Viking right now."
Vikings Select Baylor Defensive Lineman James Lynch with 130th Overall Pick | By Craig Peters
James Lynch may be closer to the south end of I-35, but his attention has often focused on Minnesota and the play by the Vikings defense.
Now, the defensive lineman out of Baylor will be able to join in on the fun, thanks to the Vikings drafting him with the 130th overall pick.
"I watched them play a lot this year," Lynch explained during a video conference on Saturday. "You see the way the d-line plays and the way their team plays and the way that their d-line has grown, you see a good defense, and they're salty."
Lynch, who measured 6-foot-4 and 289 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, met formally with the Vikings staff. It went well enough that Lynch circled Minnesota as a team he hoped to play for.
"I see a whole coaching staff and sometimes might feel intimidated, but with them, it was just comfortable," Lynch said. "They wanted to talk football, and it made it easy for me.
"I knew with Coach Zimmer and the way he was that I'd fit well," Lynch added. "I also watched Minnesota play as a kid, and I like the new stadium and facilities and stuff, so they have everything you could ever ask for. To be able to go there whenever I get the chance to is going to be an awesome feeling."
Hailing from Round Rock, Texas, just north of Austin, Lynch was named a First-Team All-American by the _Associated Press _and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year for his play in 2019. He led the Bears with 19.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks, ranking in the top 10 nationally in both categories. He also broke up five passes, forced three fumbles and blocked two kicks as a junior, opting to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft with a year of eligibility remaining.
In 38 career games, Lynch totaled 101 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss and 22 sacks, thriving on the interior of the defensive line for Matt Rhule at Baylor. Rhule is now head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
ESPN's Trey Wingo shared an anecdote during the broadcast of the recruitment of Lynch to Baylor.
"As soon as Matt Rhule got the job at Baylor, the first thing he did was drive down to Austin, about 90 minutes away, and said, 'We've got to get James Lynch.' "
Lynch said Rhule's approach sold him on attending Baylor.
"I think the biggest thing, my recruiting process was kind of weird," Lynch said. "I had to deal with a lot of people who didn't tell me the honest truth, and when I met Coach Rhule, he told me exactly what he wanted from me and what he wanted for him. Baylor is also an hour-and-a-half away, so my family could come see me play in college. That was kind of a no-brainer, and it was a good school as well, so there were a lot of positives."
View images of Vikings fourth round draft pick Baylor DT James Lynch.
Count ESPN Senior NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., as a fan of the Lynch pick.
"I tell you what, Rick Spielman is doing a good job with the Vikings of putting together a very solid draft," Kiper said after the selection. "James Lynch is one of those guys we talked about, Trey, who is a warrior. He's a football player. You don't have a 300-plus pounder here. I think you have a Dean Lowry type. Dean Lowry came out of Northwestern and has been solid with the Green Bay Packers. That's what I think James Lynch will be.
"You think about a guy with scheme versatility, had 19.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 of those were sacks," Kiper added. "[He] uses his hands extremely well, can win outside, inside, plays with really good power, never lacked for effort. You've got to like James Lynch. If you watched him at Baylor throughout his career, what a football player, a key guy in every game, got into that backfield and wreaked havoc against the run and got the sack numbers that you want as well. I've always been a big fan of James Lynch."
Vikings Select Oregon LB Troy Dye with 132nd Overall Pick | By Lindsey Young
The Vikings selected linebacker Troy Dye with the 132nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.Dye, a senior out of Oregon, measured 6-foot-3 and 231 pounds.
He started 13 games last season, recording 84 tackles with 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Dye earned First-Team All-Pac 12 honors and participated in the 2019 Reese's Senior Bowl.
Dye is the only player in Oregon history to lead the team in tackles for four consecutive seasons. He finished third in program history in career tackles (397) and tied for fourth in tackles for loss (44.0).
He is looking forward to learning from Vikings linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, who has led Minnesota in tackles every season since being drafted in 2015.
"Now that I'm [Barr's] teammate, I'll get to pick his brain and really get to know what he does and how he does it," Dye said. "But the thing that stands out to me is he's a big, long, athletic guy that's able to cover space really well. He understands the game.
"He was a transition guy in college like I was, so just to be able to see some of the keys and tools that he helped with his transition [will be great]," Dye added.
Dye also is looking forward to reconnecting with his former roommate and Ducks teammate, Vikings receiver Dillon Mitchell, in Minnesota. The Vikings grabbed Mitchell in the seventh round last year.
"It's kind of crazy. Right after I got the call, he called me … and it was just a cool thing to be able to talk to him about," Dye said. "I remember we were talking about it yesterday that if I was on the board, it would be kind of a cool thing to go to Minnesota. To make it happen is pretty awesome."
Making the jump from college to the pros will always be an adjustment, but Dye already feels supported by Mitchell and by his football family.
View photos of Vikings new fourth round draft pick Oregon LB Troy Dye.
Troy's father, Mark, played football at San Jose State; his brothers, Tony (DB), Jordan (WR) and Travis (RB), played at UCLA, Sterling College and Oregon, respectively. Tony spent the 2012-13 seasons with the Bengals and was on the Raiders practice squad in 2014.
"I have a lot of people in my corner who have been down that road and who have done a lot of things that I aspire to do," Dye said. "I think just having those people to rely on and communicate with, call out to whenever I need help or have questions about stuff, I have a good support system. I think that's the biggest part that will help me with my transition to the next level."
The selection of Dye marked the second time in franchise history the Vikings have selected from the 132nd spot in an NFL Draft. Minnesota tabbed guard Edward Ta'amu in 2002, but he never played a game for the Vikings.
ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., described Dye's playing style as alert and active during the ESPN/NFL Network broadcast.
"Very athletic, lateral pursuit is excellent, and where he's gonna be key in the NFL in this Vikings defense is the way he can handle coverage responsibilities," Kiper added. "He's a very alert, very active football player."