Minnesota could be in line for one of their best seasons yet. A huge part of that is the Vikings’ wide receivers, and the exciting options they give the offense. We all know how amazing the duo of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson is, but there are truly some viable options beyond them this year.
The Top Dogs
As I previously mentioned, this position is still very much lead by the dynamic duo. After his historic rookie season, Justin Jefferson emerged as one of the league’s biggest game-breakers at wide receiver. Adam Thielen, a top-tier receiver himself, has proven to be one of the best red-zone WRs as well.
If both of these two stay healthy, they will dominate the target share and provide the backbone to Minnesota’s passing game. With an extra game in 2021, both Thielen and Jefferson should be 1,000-yard receivers this season.
This is a position that has seemingly been ignored in years past. However, with an elite roster on board, Minnesota has finally addressed WR3. Not to mention, there seems to be legitimate competition for the spot as well.
When he’s back to 100%, I have to imagine Dede Westbrook is the favorite for this spot. He has not been able to practice much so far, as the Vikings are taking a cautious approach with his rehab. However, he has seen success in Jacksonville and should fit seamlessly into Minnesota’s offense.
In Westbrook’s absence, KJ Osborn has stepped up in a big way. While he was drafted initially to be a returner, he struggled to get anything going in that role. Once thought to be a busted pick, KJ’s ability to shine on offense could be his second chance.
Drafted in the fifth round out of Iowa, Ihmir Smith-Marsette is an uber-talented receiver. After being selected, many fans believed ISM could be a potential option at WR3. While he has not run with the 1s a ton in training camp, he has impressed throughout his time in Minnesota.
Despite being a WR3, whoever earns that spot will most likely be the fifth target on the field, after Jefferson, Thielen, Dalvin Cook, and Irv Smith. This means that there will not be a whole lot of extra targets to go around, and whoever claims the spot will need to be efficient above all else.
If I had to guess, I would imagine KJ Osborn gets the first chance to snag the spot if Westbrook is not able to suit up for Week 1. We all know that he has the athleticism to succeed, but it will take production to secure it.
With Bisi Johnson, last year’s WR3, currently on IR, the Vikings will need one of these guys to step up and provide a spark in the offense.
On the Bubble
The only wide receivers left on the roster are Chad Beebe, Dan Chisena, Whop Philyor, Blake Proehl, Myron Mitchell, and newly signed Warren Jackson. With five spots essentially sealed in my eyes, that may leave only one roster spot left in the WR room.
While Chad Beebe may have the most experience of the bunch, he has failed to really capitalize on his opportunities in the past. However, with only 201 yards off of 20 catches in 2020, don’t consider him a lock.
Dan Chisena made the squad last year as a crazy athletic UDFA from Penn State. While he was mostly a special teamer in his first season in Minny, he certainly has the talent to contribute.
Whop Philyor marks the start of this year’s UDFA crop. While his numbers were not other-worldly, he certainly showed he was an NFL talent. In Indiana’s final game against Ole Miss, Philyor hauled in 18 receptions! If a UDFA does crack the rotation this year, my money is on Philyor.
However, he is not the only candidate. Blake Proehl, who had his fair share of success at East Carolina, comes into Minnesota with a story much like Beebe. A second-generation NFL player after his father Ricky, Proehl could show out in camp for a spot.
Myron Mitchell and Warren Jackson
Myron Mitchell and Warren Jackson seem to be in the back of the line for this race. For starters, Mitchell currently resides on the Reserve/Covid list, and Minnesota just claimed Jackson off waivers today. Missing time is the quickest way to find yourself on the bottom. However, a big performance during the preseason could lift them above some of the others.
As it stands now, I see Philyor as a dark horse candidate to claim the final WR spot. His upside is just higher than everyone else on this list, and he is a receiver that fits the Vikings’ offense. However, if Dede starts the season on PUP or even IR, I expect the Vikings to keep Chad Beebe around until he’s healthy.