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5 Things to Know About New Vikings Defensive Tackle James Lynch

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings tabbed Baylor defensive lineman James Lynch in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft with the 130th overall pick.

The 21-year-old junior is listed at 6-foot-4 and 289 pounds.

He became the fifth Baylor Bear ever drafted by the Vikings and the first since linebacker Ray Berry in 1987.

Here are five things to know about the new Vikings defensive tackle:

1. Big 12 Man on Campus

Lynch earned the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors from the conference's coaches, TheAssociated Pressand theWaco Tribune-Herald after leading the Bears with 19.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks, tying for the seventh-most TFLs and the sixth-most sacks in FBS last season.

He also broke up five passes, forced three fumbles and blocked two kicks before declaring for the draft with a year of eligibility remaining.

Lynch's 13.5 sacks in 2019 set a single-season record at the school. It also helped him on the way to 22 career sacks, which is another Baylor record. Lynch topped the mark of 17.5 by Shawn Oakman from 2013-15.

View images of Vikings fourth round draft pick Baylor DT James Lynch.

2. Journey to Baylor

It was quite the progression for Lynch, who was raised in Round Rock, Texas, just northeast of Austin.

In addition to being a three-time all-district defensive lineman at Round Rock High School, Lynch also lined up at tight end in short-yardage situations and punted for the Dragons.

Initially Lynch committed to TCU before switching to USC. He eventually opted for Baylor after a December 2016 visit by Matt Rhule, the incoming and former Bears coach (2017-19) who is now head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Before the draft, Jason King of Sic' reported in depth on the twists and turns that led Lynch to Baylor.

"I told him I wanted to play in the NFL, and he told me his goal was to be an NFL head coach," Lynch told King. "That's usually not how you would recruit someone, because that recruit will think, 'He's going to leave me.' But I thought, 'OK, this guy is a straight shooter. I like that.' "

3. Middle name from a nickname

Although Lynch grew up in Texas and played collegiately in the various green-and-gold Baylor uniforms, he has a strong tie to "Big Red."

Lynch's father, Tim, played linebacker for the University of Nebraska, which was a member of the Big Eight (1921-95) and Big 12 (1996-2010) before joining the Big Ten. Tim and his wife, Sherri, gave James the middle name of "Husker" in honor of Nebraska's sports nickname.

James uses Husker in his Twitter (@JamesHusker38) and Instagram (jameshusker38) accounts.

"During the process, I thought I'd get an offer (from Nebraska)," James explained Saturday. "I told them I wanted to go there and that just didn't happen. And it was a blessing in disguise, and I got to play for Baylor and it worked out, so I'm not mad about that obviously."

Asked jokingly if he changed his middle name to "Bear," Lynch replied, "I've still got a little bit of Nebraska in me, so I've got to keep that. But it's been an interesting story when people ask about my middle name and why my Twitter [handle] has Husker."

4. Knows his 'Q'

Tim and Sherri hosted tailgates for dozens of people before Bears games with help from their oldest son, Dustin, who played at Texas State. Dustin hauled a large smoker to prepare ribs, wings, steaks, burgers and sausage to games and to a scaled-down draft party.

Incidentally, James was asked to give his opinion on his favorite barbecue spots in Texas.

"Franklin's is the best tasting, obviously, but I find it hard to wait two-and-a-half hours to get food, so for me, I'm just going to go more the efficient route and I'd go more for Salt Lick," James said.

5. He wanted to be a Viking

Lynch played "everything" on the defensive line in Baylor's defense, but it's likely that most of his work with the Vikings will be at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot.

He said he watched the Vikings "play a lot" in 2019.

"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," said Lynch, who added that he instantly felt comfortable in at the combine when meeting with the Vikings coaching staff.

"They wanted to talk football, and it made it easy for me," Lynch said. "I knew with Coach [Mike] Zimmer and the way he was that I'd fit well. 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."