In Our Roster Projection Series, we have covered the d-line, linebackers, corners, safeties, quarterbacks, and running backs. We continue the Minnesota Vikings Roster Projection with the wide receivers.
Last season, the Vikings signalled their commitment to the run by only keeping four receivers on their initial roster. The Vikings, quite evidently, felt confident that they could rely on Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and then a combination of tight ends and running backs. Heading into this season, the Vikings will need to reconfigure their receiver room to account for losing Diggs. The result will likely involve turning to a variety of young receivers to contribute.
The Wide Receivers:
Bralon Addison, Chad Beebe, Dan Chisena, Davion Davis, Quartney Davis, Alexander Hollins, Justin Jefferson, Bisi Johnson, Dillon Mitchell, K.J. Osborn, Tajae Sharpe, and Adam Thielen
Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen
Jefferson will not replace Diggs. Doing so is close to impossible for a rookie, especially one that is getting considerably less training in this peculiar offseason. Jefferson will help, though. Expect Gary Kubiak to play to Jefferson’s strengths, lining him up in the slot and allowing him to win on plenty of crossing routes.
The main concern for Thielen is health. If he is healthy, then he should put up big numbers. While it’s true that he benefitted from Diggs attracting attention from opposing defenses, Thielen should still be able to produce. Though it sounds cliché, Thielen has succeeded largely because of his competitiveness. He seems to have incredible focus when he is on the field, allowing him to win contested catches with some regularity. He’s also deceptively fast and a strong route runner.
As a seventh-round draft pick, Johnson’s rookie season was tremendous. Johnson, who is still only twenty-three years old, will help the Vikings win in 2020 if he can build on his rookie year. He had 31 catches, 294 yards, and 3 touchdowns last season. While it would be nice to see him improve these numbers, the key really rests in when and how he produces his stats. In other words, if Johnson can be a reliable option on key third downs, in the red zone, and late in games, the Vikings will be a lot more dangerous. Vikings fans should think of Jarius Wright from the 2017 season; Wright didn’t put up huge numbers, but he made huge plays.
Chad Beebe, Quartney Davis, Alexander Hollins, K.J. Osborn and Tajae Sharpe
It may be time for the Vikings to move on from Beebe. He offers upside, but he has issues with health and drops. In the Week 2 game against Green Bay, Beebe made a tremendous play, turning a short pass into a massive gain that demonstrated his quickness. If they are confident that he is healthy, the coaches may choose to keep Beebe, especially if he can contribute as a returner.
The Vikings are obviously high on Davis, given that they made him a priority as an undrafted free agent. They gave him $110,000 in fully guaranteed money, according to Over the Cap, which is a considerable amount for an UDFA. He’ll be in the mix for a final spot.
Hollins should make this team. He is very skinny and very fast. He brings an explosiveness to the offense that should complement several of the other receivers. He may end up being a great option on slants and deep passes.
Osborn’s college production was underwhelming, but that wasn’t the main reason why the Vikings chose him in the fifth round. Osborn is a strong returner. If he can show the coaches that he is a better option than Ameer Abdullah and Beebe, Osborn will make the team.
The general assumption has been that Sharpe will make the roster. Though solid, Sharpe has less upside than other options, such as Beebe and Hollins. The recent low-end free agent receivers (i.e. Michael Floyd, Jordan Taylor) haven’t worked out well for the Vikings.
Bralon Addison, Dan Chisena, Davion Davis, and Dillon Mitchell
There is a good chance that the Vikings will carry five or six receivers. Even still, these players seem to be mostly playing for a spot on the practice squad. It will be especially difficult for these players given that they don’t have the opportunity to compete in preseason games. Davis and Mitchell have the best shot of emerging from this group.
Pre-Training Camp Roster Projection: Beebe, Hollins, Jefferson, Johnson, Osborn, and Thielen
Pre-Training Camp Starter Projection: Thielen and Jefferson
In our next article, we’ll be covering the tight ends.