With no physical mini-camp and the battle for an expanded 55 man roster, I thought I’d look at one of the Minnesota Vikings Day 3 draft picks, Troy Dye, to see what we can expect from him whenever the 2020 season gets underway.
The Vikings have selected an off-ball linebacker on Day 3 every year going back to the 2009 draft. These selections have had varying degrees of success, but none have truly stood out.
Will Troy Dye be more than just another rotational player and special teams contributor? There’s reason for optimism.
“I think Eugene is probably my second home because I just fell in love with the community. I feel like I have a spot there for the rest of my life no matter what.” – @Tdye15dbTroy— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) May 21, 2020
Troy Dye went out as a Rose Bowl Champion and it ‘meant the world’ #GoDuckshttps://t.co/jcaqagLLoN
Who is he?
Dye attended Norco High School in California, same school that a young Toby Gerhart attended, with his father as head coach at that time. It seems family connections are a thing at Norco, as Dye’s older brother Tony was his Defensive Coordinator while there. He played safety in high school and from watching his highlights, it’s fair to say his size and athleticism stand out.
Dye received his first offer from Colorado, but as more offers came in, he landed on Oregon. With his size, range and physique, he transitioned to Linebacker as a freshman, where he played 10 games that first year. The rookie Duck racked up 91 total tackles that season, leading the team and ranking 5th overall in the PAC-12. Twelve of those tackles were for a loss. He went on to lead the Ducks in tackles in each of the remaining three seasons at Oregon. He is the only player in Duck’s history to achieve this feat and he lands 3rd all-time in total tackles and 4th in tackles for loss.
Fitting the mold
The Vikings have a history of instinctive playmaking linebackers, including current standouts Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Dye had an interception in each of his four seasons, and a combined four forced fumbles. He fits that mold as well.
Dye also comes with stories of toughness. First, playing with a broken thumb sustained against Washington. Then, the standout decided to play in the Rose Bowl with a torn meniscus, which affected his NFL draft preparation.
Perfect coverage by Oregon LB Troy Dye. Manages to pull off the interception even with his clubbed hand. pic.twitter.com/6nIQ42MOz6— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) December 7, 2019
While reading about him, a specific story caught my eye (specifically the final paragraph). As a freshman, Dye played in a humiliating 70-21 loss suffered against Washington and actually kept the scoreline pinned to his locker for the rest of his time in Eugene… He never forgets!
“In fact, Oregon linebacker Troy Dye told me after the game that he has the score from the 2016 game — again, 70-21 — posted in his locker.
“There are a lot of us who were here for that,” he said.” – John Canzano
Adam Zimmer on #Vikings rookie LB Troy Dye, via the VEN:— Sean Borman (@SeanBormanNFL) May 22, 2020
“Me & Nick Rallis really like this guy. I know the family pretty well, I coached his brother in Cincinnati. I think he’s a modern-day NFL linebacker. We talk about 2-down MIKES all the time. Well, that doesn’t exist in our
Anthony Barr is 28 and about to start his second year of a five year deal. There is a potential “opt out” for the Vikings after this season taking a 7.8 million cap hit. Barr is taller and physically more imposing than Dye, when comparing their Mockdraftable data. However, there are not many off-ball Linebackers that have Barr’s unique size and athleticism.
Dye likens more to Deion Jones and Jaylon Smith, who have both carved out a good career in the NFL, leaning on their coverage skills and impressive sideline to sideline speed. Did the Vikings see some of those skills when drafting Dye, with hopes to mold an athletic talent into a natural successor?
Now, he has a way to go before he can replace Barr, but Dye is certainly suited to the modern day linebacker role. His length and size will allow him to match up with tight ends. In his final season at college, he only allowed 211 yards in coverage while snagging 2 interceptions and defending four passes.
This is why I love Troy Dye’s projection to the next level: NFL-ready cover skills.— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) August 25, 2019
One of the best man coverage reps you’ll see from a college LB: Stays in phase with Colby Parkinson (a top 100 prospect), turns and makes a play on the ball at the high point. That 6’4 length > pic.twitter.com/wn8DjBFgLa
It will be interesting to see if the Vikings conditioning coaches can help him bulk up, without losing his quickness. Jaylon Smith (previously mentioned as a physical comparison) was able to add weight and speed successfully.
A look into his skillset
The Ducks used him in more pass-rush situations during his final season. With his range and speed, he can be used in a double A gap blitz look that the Vikings frequently show. Allowing for an easy transition into Zimmer’s 3rd down package. In his final season, he had 26 pressures in 107 passing snaps, according to PFF, with 2.5 credited sacks (13 in his college career total).
This clip shows a planned blitz, which was stifled, but he shows excellent pursuit speed chasing down the ball carrier. You need to watch this two or three times to see the ground made up!
Troy Dye’s sideline-to-sideline range is very impressive. Here he is lined up at the MIKE-LB spot on a blitz. Covers a lot of ground very quickly to make this play. pic.twitter.com/BbNcMgZLlo— Purple Post (@Purple_Post) April 26, 2020
The Vikings got good value when snapping up Oregon #35 on Day 3. His stock clearly fell due to his draft prep being hampered by injuries. He was projected to be off the board late Day 2.
He should stick around
Day 3 picks’ success are typically a coin flip and many roam around the league for a few seasons, but I hope the former Duck makes it with us.
Finally as with any Day 3 pick that makes the roster, you’d expect a special teams contribution. Another former Duck gives Dye the thumbs up here, and so do I.
Troy Dye will be a fantastic pro. He’s just a playmaker on defense. He will be awesome on special teams. He played a game this season with a cast on his hand. The cast broke and he kept playing. Also the best gif… #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/44onC8Zxsm— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) April 25, 2020
To chat with me on anything Vikings or Draft related, please reach out to me on Twitter @kevinsayer.