The Vikings entered Round 4 of the 2021 NFL Draft on Saturday with three picks: Nos. 119, 125 and 134.
Vikings Select Iowa State RB/KR Kene Nwangwu with 119th Overall Pick | By Eric Smith
The Vikings added depth to their backfield and on special teams in the fourth round Saturday, taking Iowa State running back/kick returner Kene Nwangwu (pronounced WAHN-goo) with the 119th overall pick.
The selection of Nwangwu gives Minnesota another running back to go along with Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison and Ameer Abdullah. Mike Boone signed with the Broncos in free agency.
Nwangwu was Iowa State's backup running back this past season, recording 339 rushing yards and four scores.
But his biggest impact came on special teams, as he ranked third in the Big 12 and seventh nationally with an average at 28.9 yards per kickoff return. He had five returns of 30-plus yards, including two of 65 yards or longer.
His 2,470 career kickoff yards is the most in school history and third all-time in Big 12 history.
View photos of Iowa State RB Kene Nwangwu who was selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
"I came in as a freshman, and I didn't start playing running back, I started doing kick returns," Nwangwu said. "So my running backs coach said, 'I want you to play this freshman year,' so I did kick returns. I remember that first practice, I caught like 50 balls that day just to get comfortable with it."
Nwangwu said he also has experience as a gunner on punt returns and on the punt block team.
Nwangwu has speed to burn, as many draft experts considered him among the fastest players in the entire 2021 draft class.
Although he is listed at 210 pounds, Nwangwu was unofficially clocked at 4.29 seconds in the 40-yard dash at Iowa State's Pro Day in March. Some measured the time at 4.31 seconds. Iowa State also recorded him with a 37-inch vertical jump and 22 reps on the 225-pound bench press.
"Actually, my fastest was a 4.25 in training. I went to Nashville to train at Boost Performance, and the hand timing got me at a 4.25," Nwangwu said. "The speed part of my game, I think it's just setting it up. I'm still working on that, being able to set up blocks with your speed, too. So like tempo-ing it down and being able to accelerate when you have the ability to."
Nwangwu said he recently has been in constant contact with the Vikings, including chatting with Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Ryan Ficken and running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu.
"I think my agent, we sat down and looked at depth charts for multiple teams, even looking at the scheme, the running backs coach, even the possibility for kick return/punt return, any type of special team needs," Nwangwu said. "We circled the Vikings as a high place where I could go there and have a role as a kick returner and special teams player, and I would fit their scheme in the outside zone scheme in the run game."
Vikings Select California S Camryn Bynum with 125th Overall Pick | By Lindsey Young
The Vikings added to their defensive backs room early on Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Minnesota tabbed California's Camryn Bynum with the 125th overall pick.
Bynum, a redshirt senior who is listed at 6-foot, 196 pounds on his NFL.com bio page, initially opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns but returned when the Pac-12 season began in the fall instead of the spring.
He served again as a team captain in 2020 and earned First-Team All-Conference honors for his play in Cal's four games. He totaled 19 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, one interception and two pass breakups. Bynum also accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
View photos of California S Camryn Bynum who was selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Bynum played cornerback for the Golden Bears but is expected to transition to safety for the Vikings. He joins a position group led by All-Pro Harrison Smith and Xavier Woods, whom Minnesota added during free agency this spring.
NFL.com's Lance Zierlein noted that scouts "rave about Bynum's personal character" and that he has good field intelligence and a high football I.Q.
Vikings Select Florida State DE Janarius Robinson with 134th Overall Pick | By Craig Peters
The Vikings bolstered their pass rush for a second consecutive day by choosing Florida State defensive end Janarius (pronounced juh-narr-iss) Robinson with the 134th overall pick.
"First off, I just want to thank God for giving me the opportunity with the Minnesota Vikings organization," Robinson said. "I can't wait to get to Minnesota and get this thing rolling. And also get back with my fellow 'Noles brother, Dalvin Cook."
Robinson redshirted in 2016, which was Cook's final season of running past college defenders. He said he hasn't had a chance to talk to Cook recently, but he has connected with Patrick Peterson on the new Vikings cornerback's "All Things Covered" podcast with Bryant McFadden.
The episode, in which Robinson explains how his family bounced back from losing its home in Hurricane Michael in 2018 with help of a GoFundMe set up by FSU, is available on YouTube:
"It's very emotional," Robinson said of being drafted Saturday in a video call with Twin Cities media members. "Just knowing all the things that I went through, adversity in my life off the field with losing my house back in 2018 to Hurricane Michael, but I use that as motivation, to go out there and put my best foot forward every day, and I use that as my 'why,' why I'm going out here and what I need to get done."
View photos of Florida State DE Janarius Robinson who was selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Robinson totaled 104 tackles (55 solo), 20.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks, three passes defended, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles in four seasons for the Seminoles and believes he boosted his stock at the Reese's Senior Bowl.
"It gave me a great opportunity to come out there against some of the top talent in the country," Robinson said. "Just put my talents and what God gave me on display. I feel like I did a great job capitalizing on that opportunity and showing what I can do."