For the third installment of my positional breakdowns, I’ll be covering the wide receivers.
By Jordan Wright
Even after the Minnesota Vikings traded for speedy receiver Mike Wallace, there were plenty of people who thought the Vikings should draft a wide receiver early in the draft. While there were many quality receivers to look at in the draft, I personally think there were more pressing areas of concern that should have been (and were) addressed in the draft. With another year of Norv Turner and Teddy Bridgewater, not to mention the return of Adrian Peterson, it is time to truly find out how good the receivers can be.
The Starters: Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson.
Mike Wallace was brought in to be the number one receiver for the Vikings after putting up an average of 62.5 receptions, 972 yards, 15.6 YPC (yards per catch), and 7.8 touchdowns over the last six seasons. For reference sake, the Vikings haven’t had a receiver put up those number since Brett Favre was throwing to Sidney Rice back in the 2009 season. Charles Johnson was signed in the middle of last season from Cleveland’s practice squad and only started six games, but he put up solid numbers and has given fans plenty of reasons to be excited about his potential.
The Depth: Cordarrelle Patterson, Jarius Wright, Stefon Diggs.
Patterson had an excellent rookie season in 2013, making the Pro Bowl as a return specialist. Unfortunately, he had a subpar sophomore campaign and lost his starting spot half way through the season. This is his third year, which is usually when receivers put it all together, so look for Patterson to have a good season and give the Vikings a legitimate three headed monster at wide receiver. Wright is entering his fourth season in the NFL and is a solid contributor, capable of making tough catches and gaining yards after the catch. Diggs was one of the best players in the nation in High School, but injuries in college never allowed him to seize his true potential. He was predicted to go anywhere between the second and fourth round of the draft, so he was a steal in the fifth round. While he won’t see much time on the field during games this season (barring injury), he has lots of potential and could make a serious impact in the future.
On the Bubble: Adam Thielen, DaVaris Daniels, Donte Foster, Isaac Fruechte, Jordan Leslie, Gavin Lutman
It really all comes down to whether the Vikings decide to keep five wide receivers or six. If the Vikings keep just five receivers on the roster, all of these players will be cut. If the Vikings decide to keep six receivers, the nod here goes to Thielen who has been with the team for two years and has been able to step in and contribute if needed. The rules of placing a player on the practice squad are complex, but it’s my understanding that Thielen isn’t eligible, so the only way for him to continue his career with the Vikings is to make the active roster. The rest of the receivers (Daniels, Foster, Fruechte, Leslie and Lutman) all seem like training camp bodies to me, but if one or two of them really impress during training camp, they could be invited to the practice squad.
I believe the Vikings have more depth at wide receiver than they have had for a long time, and I am truly excited to see what they can do this season. There is always a chance things could go wrong and the Vikings will be in the market for a receiver next offseason, but if everything goes right the Vikings could have one of the better receiving corps in the league, and that’s not even touching on the tight ends (which I’ll be covering next week) who play a vital part in the passing game.