It took the Vikings until the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft to address their needs at the wide receiver position, but they did it twice in that round, and it appears that they picked up a couple of good ones. With the 118th overall pick, the Vikings grabbed wide receiver Jarius Wright out of the University of Arkansas.
Wright wasn't the biggest wide receiver in this year's draft, measuring in at about 5'9 1/2" and about 185 pounds. He will almost certainly be the smallest receiver on the Vikings' roster in 2012. That does not mean, however, that he doesn't have the potential to make a big impact. Despite playing with a bevy of talented wide receivers such as Joe Adams and Greg Childs (both of whom also went in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft), it was Wright that established Arkansas school records for career receptions (168) and receiving yardage (2,934). He is also second in school history with 24 touchdown catches.
Wright started making an impact immediately for the Razorbacks, starting seven games as a freshman in 2008. He caught 19 passes that season for 348 yards and two scores. The two touchdown receptions came on scores of 70 and 46 yards. He continued to grow as a sophomore in 2009, starting twelve of Arkansas' 13 games that season and finishing second on the team in receptions (41) and yards (681) with five more touchdown grabs. He was also named the Outstanding Offensive Player in Arkansas' victory over East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl that season.
As a junior, Wright started all thirteen games for the Razorbacks, and though he dropped to fourth on the team in receptions with 42, he gained more yardage (788 receiving yards) and added five more touchdown receptions. He had 23 catches of 15 yards or more and nine of 25 yards or more. He also scored in Arkansas' Sugar Bowl loss to the. . .dramatic pause. . .Ohio State University, making him the second Razorback in team history to score receiving touchdowns in consecutive bowl games.
His senior season, however, is where Wright truly shined for the Razorbacks. In 2011, Wright set the Razorbacks' single-season records for receptions with 66, receiving yardage with 1,117, and receiving touchdowns with 12. He also had one of the most ridiculous performances that you'll ever see against Texas A&M, when he pulled in 13 passes for a whopping 281 yards in the Razorbacks' 42-38 win over the Aggies.
His performance in 2011 led him to be named a first-team All-SEC receiver, an honor that was not bestowed on players such as South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery and LSU's Rueben Randle, both of whom were drafted in the second round. (Jeffery and Randle comprised the receiving duo for the All-SEC second team.) Does that necessarily mean that Wright is going to end up being a better wide receiver than either of those two players? No. But it shows that, of all the receivers that suited up in the best conference in college football (sorry, Big Ten fans) that he was the best of the best in 2011.
Because of his size, his quickness, and his agility, the most natural player to compare Wright to would be our own Percy Harvin. And, really, can you ever have too many Percy Harvins on one team? I don't think so. Wright has some serious playmaking potential, although he'll probably start out as a return specialist and get worked into the offense in various ways. Yet another solid pick for the Vikings in what has the potential to be, from all appearances, an outstanding draft class.