In 2019, he was the most productive Pittsburgh Panthers defensive tackle since Aaron Donald. After opting out of the 2020 college football season, what does the 2021 NFL Draft hold for Jaylen Twyman?
Jaylen Twyman NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive Tackle
- School: Pittsburgh
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 290 pounds
Productivity should be NFL Draft prospect Jaylen Twyman’s middle name. The Pittsburgh defensive tackle has been one of the most dominant interior pass rushers since playing high school football. Growing up in Washington D.C, Twyman attended HD Woodson High School, starring on a string of DCIAA title-winning teams.
During a successful high school career that saw Woodson go 31-10, Twyman gained the reputation as an excellent pass rusher. At the same time, he also proved strong and competitive against the run game. As a high school junior, he logged 62 tackles and nine sacks. In his final season, he contributed another eight sacks and amassed an impressive 91 tackles.
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Although he was only ranked as a three-star recruit by 247 Sports, college programs began to take notice. As the fifth-ranked player in the D.C area, Twyman held offers from 11 teams.
Even though he received interest from nearly all the Power Five conferences, the defensive lineman decided to make his home in Pittsburgh. Reportedly, one of the reasons that he chose the Panthers was because of his love for former Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Although Jaylen Twyman would go on to be almost as productive as his footballing hero while wearing the icon number, his path to the NFL Draft began riding the Pittsburgh pine. Whereas most freshmen need to bulk up to meet the rigors of the college game, Twyman had the opposite issue.
An admitted fast-food junkie, he tipped the scales at 315 pounds on arrival in Pittsburgh. By the time summer of 2018 rolled around, Twyman had leaned down to 285 pounds and was ready to compete with a stacked Pittsburgh defensive tackle room.
Despite not making an immediately explosive impact, there were signs of his explosive ability. Twyman secured his first tackle for loss against Wake Forest, before registering his first half-sack in the ACC Championship Game against Clemson.
Prior to the 2019 season, Twyman changed his number to 97
With the change came an added sense of responsibility, and ultimately, pressure. Alluding to the pressure in a later interview he quipped “pressure bursts pipes or makes diamonds,” and the latter proved correct for the young Pittsburgh defensive tackle.
He exploded into the national consciousness during his redshirt sophomore season. A career-high in sacks and tackles for loss a game against Ohio was followed by a dominant display against a highly-ranked Penn State team.
Logging 41 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 10.5 sacks for the season, Twyman was voted First Team All-ACC. In addition, he became the first Pittsburgh defensive tackle to lead the team in sacks since Aaron Donald.
Although he received second-round buzz for the 2020 NFL Draft, Jaylen Twyman would head back to Pitt for another season. However, citing family reasons, he opted out of the 2020 college football season and declared for this year’s NFL Draft.
Analyzing Jaylen Twyman’s NFL Draft Profile
What does Pittsburgh defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman bring to this interior defensive lineman class in the 2021 NFL Draft? The college football productivity speaks for itself, but it’s how he’s achieved that production that stands out. He’s an incredibly athletic pass rusher whose explosiveness at the point of attack is extremely impressive.
Although he isn’t the tallest or longest prospect in the class, his explosion allows him to win at the line of scrimmage. In addition to this, he flashes impressive hand placement, speed, and strength. With these attributes combined, he has proven a substantial headache for offensive linemen and quarterbacks.
Twyman has a couple of tried and tested pass-rush moves that he uses to win. His tape is littered with delightful examples of him using swim moves and push-pull moves to overwhelm opposition linemen. In the NFL, where athleticism alone won’t be enough to win, he already has some of the tools to win on a consistent basis.
What are the potential concerns with Jaylen Twyman?
When commenting on his reasons for not declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman told reporters that “I feel I can improve my overall game. I can do a lot better things.” In opting out of the 2020 college football season, he never got to show that improvement. So, what are the issues?
One issue plays into another. In losing roughly 30 pounds at the start of his Pittsburgh career, he is now somewhat undersized compared to existing NFL defensive tackles and even his compatriots in the 2021 NFL Draft class. That lack of size is telling in the run game. Whereas once he stood out as a run stopper, that is now one of the weaknesses of his game.
Although he has some of the pass rush tools to win in the NFL, he still has room to fill up that toolbox. His game lacks a powerful bull rush or a hand chop that could result in more forced turnovers. It won’t go unnoticed that despite possessing quick and strong hands, Twyman has never forced a fumble during his college career.
Jaylen Twyman’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Jaylen Twyman still figures to be one of the first defensive tackles taken in the 2021 NFL Draft. His ability to get after the quarterback will make him a valuable commodity. He best projects as a traditional 3-tech defensive tackle in a defense that operates a four-man front.
In my early mock drafts for Pro Football Network, I had the Pittsburgh defensive tackle as a first-round pick. However, other defensive tackles have elevated themselves significantly. Some improved their stock during the season. Others used the Senior Bowl to impress. Now, I believe Twyman is more worthy as a second-round pick, potentially late in the round.
In his latest big board for Pro Football Network, Tony Pauline appears to concur. The NFL Draft Analyst and Insider gives Jaylen Twyman a second-round grade, has him ranked as the fourth defensive tackle, and the 66th overall NFL Draft prospect.
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