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John Randle to Vikings Coach After Lynch Selection: 'You Got My Guy'


EAGAN, Minn. — The text popped up on Andre Patterson's phone soon after the Vikings selected Baylor defensive lineman James Lynch in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

It was one of Patterson's former players, the one who made the Purple 93 jersey legendary, who was thrilled that Baylor's No. 93 had landed in Minnesota.

"After we made the pick, I get a text on my phone from John Randle," said Patterson, the Vikings Co-Defensive Coordinator and defensive line coach. "He goes, 'I'm so excited you got my guy.' So, I texted him back, 'Which one?'

The air of ambiguity was created when the Vikings opened the final day of the draft by selecting defensive end D.J. Wonnum out of South Carolina with the 117th pick and followed by nabbing Lynch 13 spots later.

"[Lynch is] who he was talking about," Patterson added. "So that made me feel good, that Johnny saw those same things in him, too."

Randle, of course, is one of the most epic defensive players in Vikings history. Randle, who was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2008, is tied for 10th all-time with 137.5 sacks.

He spent 11 seasons with the Vikings, racking up 114.0 sacks and recording six consecutive All-Pro and Pro Bowl seasons from 1993-1998.

Randle's connection with Lynch began at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, where Randle was among a handful of NFL Legends tasked with mentoring this year's draft prospects.

While Randle, who went undrafted in 1990, quipped that the draft was "foreign" to him, he did dish advice and support to roughly 25 defensive linemen for the week in Indianapolis.

And it just so happened that a pair of Texas natives bonded over their home-state roots and backgrounds.

"I had [Ohio State's] Chase Young, the two big dudes from Auburn [Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson], [A.J.] Epenesa from Iowa," Randle said of his group. "You could tell [Lynch] was a little bit out of place, but I just told him that everyone was on the same page and that it didn't matter what school you came from.

"Lynch and I got to talking because he said he went to Baylor," Randle continued. "But my brother [Ervin] went to Baylor, so that gave us an opening. I found out he's from Round Rock, Texas. I was like, 'Dude, I'm right down the street.'

"It's not that far," added Randle, whose hometown of Mumford is roughly 80 miles from Round Rock. "He's from Round Rock … I knew guys from Round Rock when I was growing up."

Randle said he and Lynch hit it off, although the Hall of Famer didn't know the former Baylor standout would end up with the Vikings at the 130th overall pick in the draft.

But when Minnesota made their second of three total picks in the fourth round, they added the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year who had 19.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks in 2019.

Lynch's sacks total last fall as a junior set a single-season record at the school, and also helped him set another Baylor record with 22 career sacks.

"All of the sudden, I'm watching the draft, and I see Lynch is drafted by Minnesota," Randle said. "It was just funny because he was one of my guys that I had at the combine.

"I like his temper. I think he's going to fit in great in the NFL, especially with the Vikings system," Randle added. "I didn't know he'd be coming to Minnesota, but I like this guy. There's something about this guy."

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

Randle, who said he hopes to connect with Lynch soon, said he couldn't imagine a better landing spot for Lynch than with Patterson, who has coached the likes of Randle, the late Chris Doleman, Danielle Hunter and others in his NFL coaching career.

"Teams have their pick of you, but you couldn't pick a better coach than Dre," Randle said. "He's a guy who's going to teach you more than football, he's going to teach you things that are going to enable you to be a better player and a better person.

"If he ever needs anything, he can talk to Andre Patterson," added Randle, who was coached by Patterson in 1998 and 1999. "There was so much tutelage I learned from being around Andre."

Patterson said he's excited to work with Lynch, who stands at 6-foot-4 and 289 pounds and is projecting to be a 3-technique defensive tackle after playing a substantial amount of defensive end in Baylor's system.

Lynch also broke up five passes, forced three fumbles and blocked two kicks in 2019. He explained after his selection how comfortable he felt during his formal meeting with Vikings coaches at the combine and that he had admired the defensive line's approach from afar.

"I feel like watching them more as a team, the way they celebrated, the way they had fun, that's what football is really about," Lynch said. "The easiest thing to watch is them dominating and them having a good time while they're doing it. You can't ask for much more than that, so that's what I'm excited about."

Patterson said Lynch has shown physicality and a "high-motor."

"They played him at defensive end, outside the tackle, and then they kicked him down inside over the guard," Patterson said. "And where he played, for him to get 13.5 sacks last year was outstanding. He has a natural feel of how to rush the passer.

"He understands that it's about the team, it's about hard work, so he's going to fit into my room great, and we're going to play him at 3-technique," Patterson added. "I was real excited to have a chance to get him."

And that a former player of John Randle's caliber was also a fan of the pick.

"I called Lynch when we made [the pick], and he was excited," Patterson said. "He said, 'Coach, I wanted to come to Minnesota all along. I had a great visit with you guys.'

"And when I got the text from Johnny, I texted [Lynch] what John said, and he was just jacked," Patterson said. "He couldn't believe that John Randle would [remember] who he was."