The Vikings entered day three of the NFL draft with an incredible 13 selections. Even after Rick Spielman flipped two of those for 2021 picks in trades, Minnesota still added 11 players in the fourth through seventh rounds of the 2020 draft.
Some of those 11 selections look like great value, while others left me scratching my head a bit. Here are the best and worst picks the Vikings made on Saturday.
Vikings' best Day 3 picks
James Lynch, DT, Baylor (Round 4)
It's fair to question the Vikings' decision to wait on taking a pass-rushing defensive tackle until day three, but it worked out pretty well in the end. The Vikings got a third-round talent in Lynch, who was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year after finishing tied for fifth in the country with 13.5 sacks. Lynch was the 101st player on Arif Hasan's consensus rankings of nearly 70 big boards, and the Vikings were able to get him with the 130th overall pick.
Lynch is a high-motor, powerful tackle who has some serious NFL upside despite his lack of elite athleticism. He's explosive into initial contact and possesses the pass-rush moves to find his way to the quarterback. Lynch is an exciting addition who will compete with players like Jaleel Johnson, Armon Watts, and Hercules Mata'afa for snaps at defensive tackle.
Troy Dye, LB, Oregon (Round 4)
With Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr signed to long-term deals, linebacker wasn't a need for the Vikings coming into this draft. But day three is about getting value and taking the best player available, and the Vikings did that with the selection of Dye. The former Oregon star checked in at 109th on the consensus big board, making him a good value at pick No. 132 overall.
Beyond the big board, I'm just a fan of Dye's game in general. He led the Ducks in tackles for four straight years and can do a little bit of everything at the linebacker position. He understands how to fill gaps and make plays coming downhill in the running game, has some coverage range, and can rush the passer. Dye needs to add some weight to his frame, but he has the tools to develop into an NFL starter. He'll compete with Ben Gedeon and 2019 fifth-rounder Cameron Smith to be the fourth LB behind Kendricks, Barr, and 2021 free agent Eric Wilson.
Harrison Hand, CB, Temple (Round 5)
The Vikings used two of their first four picks on corners, and then used their eighth selection on a third. It makes sense: they lost three corners this offseason, so why not bring three new ones in? I think their selection of Hand at 169th overall has a chance to be a really good pick. He had his best season in 2019 with three interceptions and has the athleticism to continue improving. Hand has good length, can jump out of the gym, and has shown flashes of high-quality play in press coverage.
Other solid picks: Michigan S Josh Metellus (Round 6), Michigan State EDGE Kenny Willekes (Round 7), Washburn G Kyle Hinton (Round 7)
Vikings' worst Day 3 picks
D.J. Wonnum, EDGE, South Carolina (Round 4)
At first glance, this pick made sense. The Vikings like to target raw, athletic pass rushers in the middle and late rounds, and Wonnum fits that bill with his combine numbers. But dig a little deeper and the selection becomes fairly confusing. Wonnum doesn't have great strength or speed on tape and is lacking in pass-rush moves. Neither his lower half nor his hands are particularly powerful. He is likely best suited as an OLB in a 3-4 base defense, not a 4-3 defensive end playing with his hand on the ground.
The value was also questionable; Wonnum was the 180th player on the consensus big board and the Vikings took him 117th overall. They could've targeted an even more explosive edge rusher like Alton Robinson at that spot, or waited and taken Wonnum later in the day. He has upside, but he's not a Danielle Hunter or Everson Griffen-caliber athlete. I'm skeptical that even the great Andre Patterson will be able to develop Wonnum into a player worthy of a fourth-round pick.
With that said, Patterson has earned the benefit of the doubt.
K.J. Osborn, WR, Miami (Round 5)
This was the biggest head-scratcher of the evening by far for Spielman and the Vikings. Osborn has some good athletic traits, but he is built like a running back and doesn't currently possess anything resembling an NFL-level skill set as a receiver. He was well outside of the top 300 on the consensus board, yet the Vikings took him 176th overall.
In a video addressing the pick, Spielman said Osborn's best value will be as a punt and kick returner. Yes, the Vikings need a new return man and yes, Osborn's 15.9-yard punt return average last season is impressive. But why use a fifth-round pick on someone viewed mainly as a specialist? Why not take a receiver with returning ability but also real upside as a receiver, such as James Proche or Donovan Peoples-Jones, both of whom were available at that spot? Above all, why not just wait and take Osborn in the seventh round?
I don't get it at all.
Other uninspiring picks: Oregon State OT Blake Brandel (Round 6), Iowa QB Nate Stanley (Round 7)
The Vikings' full 2020 draft class:
- Round 1, Pick 22: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
- Round 1, Pick 31: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
- Round 2, Pick 58: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
- Round 3, Pick 89: Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State
- Round 4, Pick 117: DJ Wonnum, EDGE, South Carolina
- Round 4, Pick 130: James Lynch, DT, Baylor
- Round 4, Pick 132: Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
- Round 5, Pick 169: Harrison Hand, CB, Temple
- Round 5, Pick 176: KJ Osborn, WR, Miami
- Round 6, Pick 203: Blake Brandel, OT, Oregon State
- Round 6, Pick 205: Josh Metellus, S, Michigan
- Round 7, Pick 225: Kenny Willekes, EDGE, Michigan State
- Round 7, Pick 244: Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa
- Round 7, Pick 249: Brian Cole II, S, Mississippi State
- Round 7, Pick 253: Kyle Hinton, G, Washburn
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