The Vikings opened day three of the 2020 NFL Draft by tabbing three players in the fourth round.
Defensive end D.J. Wonnum, defensive tackle James Lynch and linebacker Troy Dye were selected at 117, 130 and 132 overall.
Under ideal circumstances, fourth-rounders can be developed over time under more experienced players as they adjust to the highest level of football and gradually make their impact.
The Vikings are far from ideal circumstances with injuries significantly affecting all levels of their defense.
Those factors have created a situation in which Minnesota (1-5) is likely to rely more heavily on young players in games and use the live reps as teaching tools.
In this Week's Filtered by the Fans poll presented by Pentair, the Vikings Twitter account asked which of the three fourth-round picks will have the biggest impact in the final 10 games of 2020.
Out of 7,293 votes cast, 42.1 percent picked Wonnum. Lynch was next with 34.8 percent of the vote, and Dye, who has been designated to return from Injured Reserve, received a nod from 23.1 percent of voters.
Below are brief cases for each of the three players.
D.J. Wonnum, DE, South Carolina
Danielle Hunter underwent season-ending neck surgery this week, and the Vikings traded veteran Yannick Ngakoue to Baltimore after acquiring him in August from Jacksonville.
Ifeadi Odenigbo figures to be one of Minnesota's starters going forward, but that leaves a spot for Wonnum, who has appeared in five games since he was inactive in Week 1, Jalyn Holmes (17 games, one start) and newcomer Jordan Brailford, who was signed off Washington's practice squad on Oct. 13.
Wonnum has played at least 25 defensive snaps in his five games and at least 41% of Minnesota's plays in the past two games. He recorded his first career sack in Week 4 at Houston, which was incredibly special for the former Gamecock because it involved tackling former Clemson adversary Deshaun Watson.
Holmes converted from defensive tackle to defensive end this offseason, and Brailford is yet to appear in an NFL game.
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of January 4, 2021.
James Lynch, DT, Baylor
Lynch made his NFL debut special with a sack of Russell Wilson in Week 5. He played eight snaps against the Seahawks and followed with 13 snaps against the Falcons.
The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2019, Lynch set Baylor's career mark with 22 sacks in three seasons. The Bears used him a little differently along their defensive front than the Vikings, who have had Lynch working at the 3-technique and want to establish more of an interior pass rush.
Lynch has been backing up Jaleel Johnson and is one of four defensive tackles on the roster, along with Shamar Stephen and Armon Watts.
Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
Dye is back on the practice field this week, which is encouraging for the only player to lead the Ducks in tackles in four consecutive seasons.
Dye left Oregon ranked third in career tackles 397 and tied for fourth in tackles for loss (44).
He played exclusively on special teams (17 snaps) in Week 1. He handed the same amount in Week 2 and stepped in for 21 snaps on defense but suffered a foot injury that's had him sidelined since.
The Vikings linebackers group has been decimated by injuries, including a torn pec suffered by Anthony Barr in Week 2 that cost the Pro Bowler the rest of his seventh season.
Eric Wilson has filled in for Barr, admirably handling headset duties and teaming with Eric Kendricks in sub packages that use only two linebackers.
The remaining players at the position — Todd Davis, Ryan Connelly and Hardy Nickerson — all joined after training camp opened. Davis has started two of the four games he's played and logged a season-high 30 snaps against Atlanta in Week 6.
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