How soon the fans forget the receiver corp of the 2011 season. The Viking's had the 31st ranked team in the league with passing yards per game. Percy Harvin lead the team with 87 receptions for 967 yards. After Harvin we had Jenkins 48 receptions for 466 yards, Shiancoe had 36 receptions for 409 and Aromashado with 26 receptions for 468 yards. Granted quarterback play was not good with McNabb brought in as a veteran mentor for rookie Christian Ponder. Berrian's free agency didn't work out as envisioned and Ponder struggled when he took over. The receivers took a large portion of the blame that season.
Arguably the 2012 receiving corp wasn't much better lead by Harvin with 677 yards in an injury shortened season. Rudolph (493 yards), Jenkins (449 yards), Simpson (274 yards), and Wright (310 yards) lead the team in receiving yards with the passing game ranking in the 28th position. Once Harvin was traded to the Seahawks, there was little question that the Vikings would need to address the receiver corp.
Spielman averted a disaster when Wallace spurned the Vikings. The Vikings signed a seasoned vet in Greg Jennings coming off an injury based season to a 5 year 45 million dollar contract with 17.8 million guaranteed. He had 68 receptions for 804 yards to lead the team in receiving during the 2013 season. Jerome Simpson stepped up and had 48 reception for 726 yards on the season. Patterson came on in the second half of the season to finish with 45 receptions for 469 yards and Wright finished the season with 26 reception for 434 yards.
I'm not going to get into the quarterback argument other than making the statement the team needs to address the position. Signing Jennings isn't going to sink the team but it would be wise to start preparing for life after Jennings. Jennings will have a manageable cap hit of 7 million dollars next season and then will rise to 11 million for the last three years of his deal with the dead money dropping each year. Simpson's status is by no means secure for next season with his off the field issues coming into play. So heading into next season, Jennings would be the #1 receiver and Patterson #2. If Simpson is not resigned that means Wright would be the #3 receiver.
Sam Watkins is the top ranked receiver in this years draft and looks to be a real game changer. He could be on the draft board at the #8 position and the Vikings need to take a serious look at drafting him if he was available. This really depends how the seven picks shake out ahead of the Vikings pick. Some player will drop in the top seven picks and we do not know who that player will be and should be prepared to select the BPA with our first pick.
If we had the opportunity to put Jennings, Patterson and Watkins on the field as our top receivers with Peterson running the ball, Norv turner would have plenty of offensive weapons available. I'm not a fan of moving up in the draft as we need all of our picks. It would be nice to trade back if the opportunity is there but at #8 it would be a hard sell as teams don't like to part with draft picks. The team needs to keep developing its receivers and if we can't get more receptions from Jennings, he may be to expensive to retain on the roster. The question is drafting a receiver a better option than signing a free agent receiver?
We have seen all the mocks and most would have Bridgewater, Manziel, or Bortles as being realistic picks at #8 if they were on the draft board. I'd sure be open to Clowney if he were on the board. We aren't looking to upgrade the left tackle position so Matthews or Robinson aren't really an opiton for us. C.J. Mosely , Kalil Mack, or Barr would provide an opportunity to bolster our talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Listed are prospects that are likely to be drafted in the top 10. Bridgewater, Bortles, Manziel, Clowney, Mosely, Watkins, Barr, or Mack are all talented players the team could draft to fill positions. Derek Carr is a realistic option on many mock draft boards. Receiver may not be our biggest need, but if we could secure a talent like Watkins we would be set at the receiver position for a few years. He had a senior season with 101 catches for 1464 yards with an average catch of 14.5 yards.