Former Pitt defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft with the 199th overall pick on Saturday. Many viewed Twyman as a potential first-round pick after a breakout 2019 season, but his stock dropped after he opted out of the 2020 season and posted mixed results at the Pitt pro day.
The 6’2”, 290-pound lineman was the fourth Pitt product to come off the board in the 2021 draft, as he followed Patrick Jones II, Rashad Weaver and Jason Pinnock, who went in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, respectively. Weaver went to the Tennessee Titans with the 135th pick, and Pinnock went to the New York Jets with the 175th pick. And Jones, who played alongside Twyman at Pitt, will team up with him once again on the Minnesota line.
In 2019, Twyman and Jones were instrumental in transforming Pitt into a defensive powerhouse, as the duo combined for 19 sacks and 23.5 tackles for losses in 13 games. However, it was Twyman who was viewed as the star at the time, as he led the team with 10.5 sacks and 12 tackles for losses in his first year as a regular starter for the Panthers. And as a result, he earned first-team All-ACC and second-team All-American honors.
With that said, Twyman opted out of the 2020 season, and that decision seemed to give teams pause about his pro potential. And after his name slid down draft boards in 2020, his performance at the Pitt pro day did little to stop the skid. Despite a mighty 40-rep showing on the bench, Twyman also posted a slow 5.40-second 40-yard dash on a new Pitt practice field turf that seemed to slow down many. And other than a decent 32.5-inch vertical jump, his additional drills did little to benefit him.
But putting aside the long pause in Twyman’s playing career, he has proven to be a dominant lineman who can make plays consistently. And with him and Jones reunited, the Vikings could turn their middle-of-the-road pass rush into a dominant force on the strength of their play alone, provided they secure starting roles.