As we take a look at the Minnesota Vikings’ roster leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, we’ve taken a look at the quarterback position and the running back position. Continuing with the offense, it’s time to move on to the wide receiver spot and see who, exactly, the Vikings will have catching passes from Sam Bradford and, hopefully (at some point) Teddy Bridgewater this coming season.
The Playmaker - Stefon Diggs
Diggs followed up his solid rookie campaign with an even better sophomore season, and likely would have gone over 1,000 receiving yards on the year had he not missed a few games with injuries. Hopefully the injury bug won’t be a recurring theme in Diggs’ career, because he’s been outstanding for the purple when he’s been on the field. He’s got the speed to get deep when necessary, but seems to be at his best when he’s catching shorter passes and making people miss. He should be a focal point of the Vikings’ passing game for a long time to come.
The Local Kid Done Good - Adam Thielen
At one point, Thielen was just a nice story about a guy getting to play for the local team and making the occasional play here and there. In 2016, he took another step up, becoming the team’s leading receiver and flirting with the 1,000-yard mark as well. He was rewarded this offseason with a nice contract extension that signals that he’s no longer just a great story, but a legitimate threat as an NFL wide receiver. Like Diggs, he’s proven to be an outstanding route runner that can get open against just about anybody. Thielen and Diggs won’t be mistaken for Moss and Carter anytime soon or anything, but they do give the Vikings a solid foundation at the receiver spot.
The Forgotten Man - Jarius Wright
I don’t even know what to make of Jarius Wright and what this team wants to do with him anymore. Honestly, it seems like they don’t want to do anything with him, as evidenced by his 11 receptions last season, about half of which came in the season finale. He looked to be a big part of the Vikings’ future at the position when he signed a contract extension a few years ago, but now can’t seem to get on the field. Is he going to make the team? Is he trade bait? At this point, your guess is as good as mine.
The Project - Laquon Treadwell
To say that Treadwell was a disappointment as a rookie would be a pretty substantial understatement. Between being a healthy scratch in a few games and dealing with injuries in some others, he wound up with only one more catch than you or I had. Still, people that already want to write him off as a bust should stop being ridiculous and give the guy an opportunity to develop. Barring any further injuries, he should be markedly more productive than he was in 2016. . .sure, he couldn’t be any less productive, but I certainly don’t think we’re going to see a rerun of 2016 this coming season.
The Import - Moritz Böhringer
MoBo has, literally, not seen an NFL field yet. . .not even in the preseason. . .and nobody’s quite sure what to make of him. It was obviously too much to ask for him to be ready to contribute in 2016, and the intent always seemed to be to stash him on the practice squad. What’s the plan for him in 2017? If the Vikings know for sure, they definitely aren’t saying. He’s obviously got all sorts of athletic ability, but is he going to be able to adjust to the NFL level of physicality and speed? Could he even contribute as a kick returner or a gadget guy?
The Rest - Isaac Fruechte, Cayleb Jones, Mitch Matthews
Fruechte got on to the active roster for the Vikings’ final game in 2016, and is another local guy that’s made his way from the practice squad to the Vikings’ roster. Matthews was signed a few weeks ago and had a pretty productive career at BYU. I couldn’t pick Cayleb Jones out of a two-person lineup featuring him and my next door neighbor. I’m not totally sure if any of these guys have a long-term future with the Vikings. . .then again, a few years ago I wasn’t sure if Adam Thielen would have a long-term future with the Vikings, either, but here we are.
The Vikings could probably stand to add another wide receiver, particularly a guy with speed that could potentially take the top off of opposing defenses. Later on, we’ll take a look at some of the players they could potentially target to join this group.