As part of the Vikings 11 personnel attack, K.J. Osborn fills an often overlooked role. Osborn has quietly caught crunch time throws, stretched defenses, and does the dirty work in the run game. As the Vikings like to run the ball without fullback C.J. Ham on the field, Osborn sometimes finds himself matched up on bigger bodies or cuts off defenders on the back side of runs.
Osborn, who enjoyed a strong day against Chicago in the Vikings on-ramp to the playoffs, has shown his ability be stout in the run game, attack coverage deep, and be a target in the red zone. With Justin Jefferson eating a vast majority of the defense’s resources, players like Osborn can find themselves in prime positions to succeed.
The Run Game
K.J. Osborn is listed at 203 pounds and blocks above his weight class. During the year, Osborn has used leverage, footwork, and effort in the run game:
KJ Osborn and friends putting in the dirty work pic.twitter.com/COx0d8vCHv— Shawn (@syedschemes) December 6, 2022
Beautiful mid zone rep from the Vikings. Flow helps pull the LBs in and sets up Cook's cut. K.J. Osborn (17) in on the blocking too pic.twitter.com/c4lvGUBkXc— Shawn (@syedschemes) September 26, 2022
Seriously, watch 17 block!
KJ Osborn with some more blocking on the edge pic.twitter.com/GVNzf0S6uC— Shawn (@syedschemes) December 6, 2022
In what seems like a decade ago, the Vikings found themselves driving on the Lions down by 3 as the clock was winding down. The Lions doubled Justin Jefferson for a large part of their Week 3 matchup and Osborn was the beneficiary on the game winner:
Kirk Cousins to K.J. Osborn on the game winner for the Vikings:— Shawn (@syedschemes) September 26, 2022
-DET wanted to keep Okudah + 1 on Jefferson throughout the game
-Lions starting S was hurt earlier on
-23's leverage makes it seem like he is expecting outside help pic.twitter.com/UQjc6Sbi7H
The Lions game also gave us another example of how Osborn stepping up helps the offense as a whole shine:
Vikings run their high crossers concept with Jefferson as the moving pick player. Jefferson is doubled again and Cousins connects with Osborn pic.twitter.com/Qq2AVrC5mu— Shawn (@syedschemes) September 26, 2022
When the Chips are Down
Kevin O’Connell has been a masterful red zone designer this year. As part of that, K.J. Osborn has found himself open on a few occasions:
Mattison helping out in pass pro, Vikings rub from stack, and a great ball from Cousins all lead to the Osborn TD pic.twitter.com/qdbKnD46su— Shawn (@syedschemes) October 31, 2022
Osborn’s versatility has also given KOC the confidence to dial up plays for 17:
Vikings running screen and go out of bunch pic.twitter.com/cLOikvydHs— Shawn (@syedschemes) January 9, 2023
KJ Osborn is contacted 2+ yards behind the sticks on jet sweep and picks up the first down pic.twitter.com/LJ3JFFk6HO— Shawn (@syedschemes) November 14, 2022
As the Vikings open up the playoffs at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Giants will look to stop Justin Jefferson. Both Jefferson and Hockenson broke the century mark in a Week 16 matchup with New York, but this time around expect even more resources to be devoted to those two. If that happens, the Vikings will benefit from K.J. Osborn’s ability as they look to start climbing the playoff mountain.