The Vikings added to the defensive line for a second time on Saturday by drafting Pittsburgh defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman with the 199th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
"I just want to say thank you to [Assistant Head Coach Andre] Patterson and the organization for giving me this opportunity and my trainers and my coaches at Pittsburgh for getting me prepared for this moment," Twyman said. "I just want to say I'm ready to be a Viking, and I'm ready to dominate. It's definitely a blessing to be in this position, to be able to play at this level, coming where I come from."
The addition of Twyman occurred 65 spots after Minnesota selected Florida State defensive end Janarius Robinson at No. 134 overall.
He'll quickly be reunited with former Panthers teammates Patrick Jones II, a defensive end the Vikings drafted on Friday with the 90th overall pick, and Brian O'Neill, who was selected by Minnesota out of Pittsburgh in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
"It's definitely a blessing being able to play with Pat again," Twyman said. "It's something that I was hoping and praying for when I was getting interviewed by the Vikings, and I knew we were two potential prospects. I've just been keeping my fingers crossed [that I'd be] able to reunite with one of my brothers, whether that was Rashad Weaver or Patrick Jones. It's a blessing to be able to chase quarterbacks down again with Patrick."
Twyman was a redshirt during the 2017 season when O'Neill was wrapping up his college career, but O'Neill's influence lasted.
"When I was on scout team and Brian was about to enter the draft, him getting me ready for those down blocks and showing me how to be a leader on the team has definitely molded me," Twyman said. "He and some other great players on the team definitely molded me to be a great teammate and stuff like that.
"I've been talking to Brian these last couple of weeks, and it's definitely a blessing to be around him, because I know he's one of the guys that will push me and help me keep my head on straight," Twyman added.
Twyman did not play during the 2020 season, but he brings 26 games of college experience to the Vikings.
He recorded 57 tackles (29 solo), 13.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and two passes defended from 2018-19 as a redshirt freshman/sophomore. In 2019, he led the Panthers with 10.5 sacks, becoming the first interior defensive lineman to lead the team in sacks since perpetual All-Pro Aaron Donald recorded 11 in 2013.
Twyman told NFL Network that he's looked up to Donald since he was 14 years old and has tried to soak up as much from him as possible along the way.
"Being as Aaron Donald is my favorite player, being able to even have my name in talks with his was definitely a blessing," Twyman said. "I was just trying to be competitive and be the best that I can be. It was definitely a blessing to be able to do that."
View photos of Pittsburgh DT Jaylen Twyman who was selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Twyman is listed at 6-foot-2 and 301 pounds on his NFL.com bio.
While some might consider that as undersized for a defensive tackle, the Vikings believe he has the quickness and power to add a dynamic effect at the 3-technique/as an interior rusher in the nickel package.
Twyman repped 225 pounds on the bench press 40 times at Pittsburgh's Pro Day.