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May 1—Jaylen Twyman, who opted out of the 2020 season after being named a preseason All-American, had to wait until the sixth round Saturday before he was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings.

Twyman was selected by the Vikings with the 199th overall selection, the same spot where seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady was picked by the New England Patriots in 2000. He will be reunited with Pitt defensive end Patrick Jones II, drafted by the Vikings in the third round Friday night.

Twyman was the fourth of five Pitt defensive players drafted over the past two days (six oveall), joining defensive ends Jones and Rashad Weaver (Tennessee Titans), cornerback Jason Pinnock (New York Jets) and safety Damar Hamlin (Buffalo Bills). It’s the most Pitt defensive players drafted on that side of the ball since seven were selected in 1981. Center Jimmy Morrissey went to the Las Vegas Raiders, giving Pitt six for the first time since 2004.

Twyman anchored the Pitt defense from his tackle position in 2019 (his only season as a starter), proving he was more than a run stuffer at 6-foot-2, 301 pounds.

“Twyman is a good player,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “He’s under-sized, kind of a sawed-off defensive tackle. He didn’t run that well (5.39-second 40 at Pitt’s Pro Day), not that it’s hugely important at the defensive tackle spot. But a 5.39 for a 3-technique (defensive tackle) is a little concerning.

“Ultimately, though, that is what he does best — quick first step, very quick hands. That’s what jumps out. He has to win with his hands. He has to stay on the move and not get anchored down. I think this guy is going to be a really good backup in the NFL.”

Twyman became the first interior lineman to lead Pitt in sacks (10 1/2 ) since Aaron Donald in 2013 when he also recorded 41 tackles, 12 TFLs and two pass breakups in ’19. He started all 13 games and earned first-team All-ACC honors.

After opting out last season and missing out on an opportunity to play between All-Americans Jones and Weaver, Twyman participated in Pitt’s Pro Day last month. There, he opened eyes by pumping the 225-pound bar 40 times off his chest. He also displayed another aspect of his athleticism with a 32 1/2 -inch vertical leap.

The comparison to Donald is appropriate because the Los Angeles Rams All-Pro has been a mentor to Twyman. The two men are often seen working out together at the Pitt practice facility.

Plus, Twyman wore Donald’s No. 97 at Pitt, willing to shoulder the pressure and attention it would bring him.

“Pressure only busts pipes and makes diamonds,” he said. “Aaron Donald is like my Michael Jordan. If I played basketball, I wanted to wear 23. So, I wanted to add that pressure to myself. So, I definitely wanted to wear 97.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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