Jaylen Twyman Looks Stronger Than Ever 

Dec 26, 2019; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman (97) prepares for the snap during the third quarter against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There are many things a rookie player has to contend with when they come into the NFL. Their dream is realized when they are drafted by a team, but there is still a long way before they are established as a genuine player in the league.

For many, it never becomes a reality — whether they are deemed just not good enough, spend their time in the league on practice squads, or are scuppered by injuries. Jaylen Twyman lost his chance to impress as a rookie in the most unfortunate of circumstances, but he was back for the Vikings rookie minicamp and, to use his own words. Jaylen Twyman is stronger than ever.

Everybody loves a comeback story, and Twyman’s progress this year will be followed closely. The story is an incredible one, and everybody will be cheering for the former Pittsburgh Panther. An incident like the one that befell Jaylen Twyman makes the story extra special.

He will be a different person than the one that would have come to rookie minicamp last year, coming through four gunshot wounds and overcoming not only the physical but also mental trauma that will have molded him as a person. You can see the excitement and gratitude to just be getting this opportunity when he speaks.

Twyman told the associated press that he had “tested his strength” recently and smiled as he said, “I put a little bit of weight on the bar, and I felt pretty good,” It was lifting weights where Twyman caught the eye in the build-up to the 2021 NFL draft. His 40 bench-press reps of 225 pounds at Pittsburgh’s pro day stood out. With that performance, he topped the mark of Pittsburgh great Aaron Donald, who had 35 reps in the 2014 NFL combine.

Nov 23, 2019; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Hendon Hooker (2) runs the ball against Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports.

He used his season to his advantage by learning all he could about the playbook and from defensive tackles Dalvin Tomlinson and Armon Watts, who have been mentors to him. He has returned in great physical shape and ready to go, which has impressed the Vikings coaching staff. The Vikings need to find some pass rush on the interior of their defensive line.

I’ve expressed before that I believe Jaylen Twyman can be that guy, possibly as a specialist on obvious passing downs to start with, but in time maybe he can develop into an every-down player.

Minnesota’s entire defensive roster will be learning a new system under Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell. It’s a system that could suit Twyman. ESPN currently lists him as the starter at right defensive end in the front three. There, he’s starting in front of Armon Watts, which seems a touch optimistic, although his pass-rushing skillset is probably more suited to the role — providing a better balance to the defensive line alongside Dalvin Tomlinson and Harrison Phillips.

However, we are far from crowning Twyman as a starter at this juncture. If the Vikings don’t make another signing in that position and Twyman has an impressive pre-season. Then, who knows?

For now, it is just great seeing him back out there on the practice field amongst teammates. Jaylen Twyman is back stronger than ever, and I’m confident he will make an impact this season. The only question is, how big will that impact be?

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