On Thursday night, the Minnesota Vikings selected WR Jordan Addison from the University of Southern California with the 23rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, making him the first first-round receiver taken by the Vikes since Justin Jefferson in 2020.
Some of the most common takes from fans have expressed concern about the size and speed of Addison, who ran a 4.49 40-yd dash while weighing in at 175lbs and standing at 5’11”. Others focused on glaring needs on the defensive side of the ball that went unfilled by a high-caliber pick.
Other dismay was given to the Vikings' upper management with many speculating that the Vikings couldn’t find a trade partner to trade back with and add to a paltry 5 picks this year, 3 of which will be spent in the 4th round or later.
It was as clear as the zeros on the clock that the Vikes ran out of time to find that partner, and the rest is history. Jordan Addison will start his NFL career in Minnesota.
Two teams, I hear, that had interest in moving up to 23 when the #Vikings were on the clock: Saints (29) and Chiefs (31). Belief is at least one of those teams would've taken Jordan Addison. Vikes like him so much, trade offers not rich enough, stayed at 23.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) April 28, 2023
Before that gets started, we should take a look at what Addison accomplished in college.
Graduating from Frederick, MD’s Tuscarora High, Addison never had much team success, but put up numbers well enough to land a starting role at Pittsburgh where he played 10 games as a true freshman, starting 8 of those.
In his first season there he gained 666 yards on 60 receptions, scoring 4 touchdowns while averaging just over 11 yards per catch.
His second season in Pittsburgh was much different in the best possible way. During a breakout season that saw Addison catch a whopping 100 catches while putting up an insane 1,593 yards, the newly-cemented Panther star showed more flash than any receiver in the country, winning the Biletnikoff award. He also scored 17 times, plus a rushing touchdown to boot. Averaging almost 16 yards per catch on 100 receptions speaks for itself.
In the new age of NIL, many saw the transfer of Addison to USC the following year as a purely fiscal move to go get that bag. It is important to note that was probably not the only reason, however, as USC was (and still is) in the process of reestablishing itself as a national power.
One cannot argue that Addison saw more than money in the Trojans with eventual Heisman winner Caleb Williams leading first-year Head Coach Lincoln Riley’s version of an Air Raid attack.
Williams concurred with that assessment, per LA Times’ Ryan Kartje.
“People thought it was about NIL,” said Williams. “Guys on the inside knew that it wasn’t. Jordan wants to win. Jordan wants to be the best receiver.”
While the kind of numbers Addison put up in his final year at Pitt were going to be tough to follow up against tougher Pac-12 defenses, Addison still put up a respectable 58 receptions for 875 yards for 14.8 yards per catch with 8 trips to the end zone. It is important to note that Addison was suffering from an ankle issue through most of the season.
In an ESPN First Take segment aired this week, USC Head Coach Lincoln Riley described Addison as one of the top receivers in the class, praising his versatile abilities.
“(He’s) An outstanding player. The thing that really stands out about Jordan is just how versatile he is,” said Riley to Stephen A. Smith.
“He’s a football guy. He gets it. He understands the game. And he sees it through, really, a pretty unique lens in terms of playing the receiver position,” said Riley. “Obviously he was outstanding for us and it’s been fun to watch him live out this dream here on Thursday night.”
Riley then went on to point to Addison’s route running ability, hands/catching ability, and the always difficult-to-quantify skill of being slippery.
“It’s just a really, really cool skill set. And something that I think people can be very creative with,” Riley continued.
With Minnesota’s recent penchant for developing receiving talent (Stefon Diggs, Justin Jefferson, and to a lesser extent Jalen Nailor and K.J. Osborn), it could be easy to see Addison develop into a WR2 of the future. Having Justin Jefferson as a resource for Addison also cannot be ignored as a positive for that development.