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By the Numbers: DJ Wonnum

Tanishka Mhaskar

November 22nd, 2020


Each week a new rookie from the Minnesota Vikings’ 2020 draft class seems to shine. This week, it was DE DJ Wonnum out of South Carolina, who recorded another multi - pressure game in the Monday night win at Soldier Field. 

Let’s take a look at his season, by the numbers:

For starters, Wonnum is now tied for third in pressures by a rookie defensive lineman with 15. Unlike the others, Wonnum is not a starter for his team, as he’s seen considerably fewer snaps (204). The other three defenders, all top fifteen picks in the draft, have played over 300 snaps.

Wonnum was one of the players with increased playing time. He embraced his opportunity, ranking eighth in the NFL among edge rushers, with 11 pressures in this three-week timespan. Some familiar names he’s tied with are Khalil Mack, Bud Dupree, and Cam Jordan

Week ten was arguably Wonnum’s most effective game of the season. Per Pro Football Focus (PFF), he ranked first in pass-rush grade, pass-rush productivity, and pressures, with five. Wonnum recorded a drive ending sack as well as two quarterback hits and two hurries. 

Wonnum has grown as a player throughout the season, especially after the bye. From the game-ending strip-sack of Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field to increased consistency in production, the Vikings might have found something in this rookie. 

Per Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson, co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Andre Patterson spoke about how he asked his defensive linemen how many are first-round picks and none raised their hand. Asked how many were second round and none raised their hand. Asked how many were in the third round. Same thing. Patterson said it doesn't matter how you started. 

It certainly hasn’t for Wonnum, whose development has been quicker than many anticipated. 

The Vikings take on the 2-7 Dallas Cowboys at US Bank Stadium tomorrow, and DJ Wonnum will likely see a matchup vs Cowboys RT Terrence Steele. This season, Steele, stepping in for La’el Collins, has been the lowest graded tackle in the NFL, per PFF. He has surrendered 33 pressures, seven sacks, and five penalties in nine career starts. 

In a defensive line that is slated to add All-Pro DE Danielle Hunter and stud NT Michael Pierce amidst things, Wonnum’s job figures to get easier next season. It will be even more exciting seeing the way he grows with more experience under his belt.