Vikings Rookie Roundup: Profiles on the Historic 15-Man Draft Class

Justin Jefferson

All 15 Vikings rookies are under contract entering training camp.

It’s been a busy two days for the Minnesota Vikings front office as they’ve been preparing for the arrival of rookies to training camp on Thursday. While the team waited for many players to pass a team physical, the wait is over as the Vikings signed the final 14 of its historic 15-man draft class this week, which is the largest in the modern draft era.

Quarterback Nate Stanley was the only rookie that was signed ahead of this week. Check out all 15 player profiles below.

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Justin Jefferson, WR (6-1, 202 pounds), selected in the first round, No. 22 overall: As a junior, the LSU product led the nation in receptions (111) and set both career and CFP Semifinal game records for receptions (14), receiving yards (227), receiving yards in a half (186), and receiving touchdowns (4) in the Tigers’ victory over Oklahoma. Jefferson also boasted the best contested-catch rate in college football. Jefferson is considered to have one of the best chances of any rookie wide receiver to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Jeff Gladney, CB (5-10, 191 pounds), selected in the first round, No. 31 overall: Gladney tied for second in the Big 12 as a redshirt senior at TCU in 2019 with 15 passes defended, including a conference-best 14 pass breakups which tied for eighth nationally. He’s been regarded as the top dark horse for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Ezra Cleveland, OT (6-6, 311 pounds) selected in the second round, No. 58 overall: Considered one of the most athletic offensive linemen in the draft, Cleveland ran a 4.93 40-yard dash, good for the third-best time among offensive linemen. He is reunited with Boise State teammate and Vikings running back Alexander Mattison.

Cameron Dantzler, CB (6-2, 188 pounds) selected in the third round, No. 89 overall: Dantzler started the final 22 of his 35 career game appearances at Mississippi State. Dantzler finished his collegiate career with 108 total tackles, five interceptions and 20 passes defended, earning Second-Team All-SEC honors as a sophomore in 2018. He held college football’s best receiver J’Marr Chase to two catches and 13 yards. Known as “The Needle” for his hard-hitting play and skinny frame.

D.J. Wonnum, DE (6-5, 258 pounds) selected in the fourth round, No. 117 overall: The highest-drafted defensive end by Minnesota since Danielle Hunter was chosen 88th overall out of LSU in the 2015 NFL Draft. Wonnum appeared in 43 games with 30 starts for South Carolina during his four-year career, logging 37 tackles with 14.0 sacks. He was one of defensive line coach Andre Patterson’s “guys” in the draft, a similar notion held when Hunter was drafted.

James Lynch, DT (6-4, 289 pounds) selected in the fourth round, No. 130 overall: Lynch appeared in 38 career games (27 starts) in three seasons at Baylor, leaving campus as the program’s career leader in sacks (23.0). Lynch was named First-Team all-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2019 after compiling 13.5 sacks (Baylor single-season record) and 19.5 tackles for loss.

Troy Dye, LB (6-3, 231 pounds) selected in the fourth round, No. 132 overall: Dye made 50 game appearances (48 starts) in four seasons at Oregon, becoming the only player in program history to lead the team in tackles in four consecutive seasons from 2016 to 2019. Dye ended his collegiate career with 397 total tackles (third in program history) and 44 tackles for loss (tied fourth in program history).

Harrison Hand, CB (5-11, 197 pounds) selected in the fifth round, No. 169 overall: Hand compiled 114 total tackles (86 solo), 17 pass breakups, four interceptions, 5.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble through 34 games during his three combined seasons at Baylor and Temple. As a junior at Temple, the Cherry Hill, New Jersey, native made a career
high 59 tackles, including 4.0 tackles for loss, and three interceptions.

K.J. Osborn, WR (5-11, 203 pounds) selected in the fifth round, No. 176 overall: Osborn worked his way into a starting role at Miami his senior year, leading the Hurricanes in receptions (50), receiving yards (547), receiving touchdowns (5) and all-
purpose yards (1,018). Drafted for his prowess as a returner.

Blake Brandel, OT (6-7, 307 pounds) selected in the sixth round, No. 203 overall: Brandel started all 48 games in which he appeared at Oregon State. A team captain as a senior in 2019, Brandel earned a 93.1 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus during his final campaign, the best score by any offensive lineman in the nation.

Josh Metellus, S (5-11, 209 pounds) selected in the sixth round, No. 205 overall: Metellus tallied 187 tackles, including 9.0 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 21 passes defended and blocked kick during his four-year career at Michigan. As a senior, he started all 13 games at safety and also contributed on special teams, making 74 tackles, including four for loss, with two interceptions, five pass breakups and one fumble recovery.

Kenny Willekes, DE (6-3, 264 pounds) selected in the seventh round, No. 225 overall: Willekes is left Michigan State with 51 career tackles for loss (first in school history) and 26.0 career sacks (third in school history) in 40 game appearances (38 starts). Willekes was the 2019 Burlsworth Trophy recipient, given to the nation’s most outstanding player that began his career as a walk-on, as well as the 2018 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and a two-time Walter Camp All-American (second-team in 2018 and 2019).

Nate Stanley, QB (6-4, 235 pounds) selected in the seventh round, No. 244 overall: Stanley started in 39 games in three seasons at Iowa, compiling a 27-12 record. Stanley threw 68 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and 8,297 yards in his Iowa career. He went 3-0 in bowl games as a Hawkeye.

Brian Cole II, S (6-2, 213 pounds) selected in the seventh round, No. 249 overall: The Mississippi State standout finished his career with 78 total tackles, including 10.5
tackles for loss, along with three sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble and two
fumble recoveries.

Kyle Hinton, LT (6-2, 295 pounds) selected in the seventh round, No. 253 overall: A product of Washburn University, Hinton is one of two Division II players to be drafted in 2020. He started the final 34 games of his career at LT for Washburn and appeared in a total of 40 games during his four-year stint. Hinton was named to three different All-American rosters following his senior season.

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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.