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Breaking Down Jordan Addison

A deeper look into the Vikings’ new wide receiver

Arizona State v USC Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With the 23rd pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Vikings selected Jordan Addison, wide receiver, from USC. Addison was ranked 24th on the industry consensus board and was the third-ranked wide receiver.

Darren Wolfson reported that two teams were interested in trading up with the Viking to #23- the Saints and Chiefs- and at least one of those teams would’ve drafted Addison. The Vikings decided that the compensation being offered to forego Addison and trade down wasn’t worth it. The Vikings hosted Addison to a Top-30 visit as part of their pre-draft evaluation.

Traits

Addison is slight for an NFL receiver at 171 pounds, but possesses good, if not elite speed and agility measures. His traits are comparable to a smaller Stefon Diggs. Addison turned 21 years old on January 27th. It should be noted that Addison cut short his Combine performance, upon which his RAS is based, not completing position drills due to some tightness in his lower back which may have impacted his athletic testing drills as well. His USC Pro Day was rained out, so he did not complete any testing at that time. PFF has reported that Addison’s game speed was faster than Zay Flowers, who ran a 4.42” 40, so there could be reason to believe Addison is faster than his 40 time suggests. Similar to Dalvin Cook in that respect- or Jerry Rice.

College Stats

Addison spent his first two seasons at Pittsburgh before transferring to USC (he also had offers from Alabama and Texas) following coaching changes at Pitt and the departure of QB Kenny Pickett to the NFL. Addison won the Biletnikoff award for the nation’s best receiver in 2021 while at Pitt after his sophomore season. He led his team in receiving yards all three seasons and was first-team All-ACC in 2021 and first-team All-Pac-12 in 2022.

College Football Reference

Addison also had some experience as a punt returner, having returned 18 punts in his college career with a 12.2 yard average. He also returned two kickoffs.

PFF Profile and College Stats

Scouting Reports

Below are various scouting reports on Addison from some of the leading media scouts.

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

BACKGROUND: Jordan Addison, who has six brothers and three sisters, grew up north of Washington D.C., and started playing football at age 5 in the Montgomery Village league. He played multiple positions throughout youth football, leading the Chiefs to a championship as a read-option quarterback. Addison attended Tuscarora High School in Frederick, where he started all four seasons on varsity. He played wide receiver and defensive back throughout high school before adding quarterback duties his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, Addison finished with 25 catches for 544 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 21.8 yards per catch.

He was a standout track athlete at Tuscarora (sprints, relays and jumps) and won the 2019 3A state championship in the long jump (22 feet 2.5 inches). Addison also set personal-bests in the 55 meters (6.65), 100 meters (10.85), 200 meters (22.56), 300 meters (38.85) and high jump (5-8).

A four-star recruit out of high school, Addison was the No. 10 athlete in the 2020 recruiting class and the No. 12 recruit in Maryland. During his junior year, his first offer came from his home state Maryland followed soon after by schools like East Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Wake Forest. With his mother’s side of the family from South Bend, he had his eyes on Notre Dame. He finally received an offer from the Irish, but they recruited him as a cornerback, which was a dealbreaker for him. Addison’s final three was Maryland, Notre Dame and Pitt, and he committed to the Panthers and wide receivers coach Chris Beatty, who previously recruited him when he was at Maryland (Beatty is now in the NFL as the wide receivers coach for the Los Angeles Chargers). Addison graduated high school early and enrolled in January 2020. After two productive seasons at Pitt, Addison elected to enter the transfer portal after several offensive coaching changes and quarterback Kenny Pickett leaving for the NFL. He considered offers from Alabama and Texas before announcing his transfer to USC. Addison reportedly made more than $1.2 million through NIL deals after his move to the Trojans. His older brother (Michael Blackman-Herbert) played safety (2016-20) at Division II Shepherd (W.Va.). Addison elected to skip his final season of eligibility and enter the 2023 NFL Draft.

STRENGTHS: Twitched-up athlete with outstanding route-running quickness … displays crisp footwork in his route transitions, which makes him a tough cover on outs/digs … creates spacing with his knack for finding the corner’s blind spot … his immediate acceleration forces defensive backs to retreat early and commit their hips … has vertical skills to get overtop coverage … his short-area quickness and loose hips make him a slippery target for tacklers … showed improved ball skills and focus each season … offers punt return experience, averaging 12.2 yards per return (18/219/0) … has a quiet, easygoing personality and described as “detailed” and “smart” by his college coaches … above-average scoring production, catching a touchdown pass every 7.5 receptions in college … the only three-year player in the draft class with 3,000-plus career receiving yards.

WEAKNESSES: Undersized with a slim frame and slight build … below-average power and body strength … bigger defensive backs will be able to disrupt his release or route timing when they lock on … competitive and slippery after the catch but didn’t break many tackles (only six forced missed tackles in 2022) … guilty of relying on his body to finish catches … can win vertically, but most of his career targets (57.8 percent) came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage … played more outside snaps in 2022 but was primarily a slot receiver over his career (60.1 percent of his receiving snaps came inside) … missed three games as a junior because of a nagging left ankle injury (October 2022).

SUMMARY: A one-year starter at USC, Addison was an inside/outside receiver in head coach Lincoln Riley’s version of the Air Raid offense. Leading the nation in receiving as a sophomore, he became the third Biletnikoff Award winner in Pitt history, joining Antonio Bryant (2000) and Larry Fitzgerald (2003), and continued his strong play after transferring to the Trojans. Addison skillfully marries his play speed, controlled suddenness and detailed focus as a route runner to create spacing and run-after-catch opportunities. He had double-digit drops each of his first two seasons at Pitt but showed much improved ball skills in 2022 (his drop rate decreased from 14.3 percent as a freshman to 9.9 percent as a sophomore to only 3.3 percent as a junior). Overall, Addison’s lack of ideal size and play strength are legitimate concerns, but he is a loose athlete with crafty routes and vertical speed to work all three levels. Projecting best in the slot, he has NFL starting talent from day one.

GRADE: 1st-2nd Round (No. 25 overall)

Lance Zierlein, nfl.com

Overview

Inside/outside wideout with the speed and agility to work confidently on all three levels of the field, but lacking the size and catch strength generally associated with high-impact performers on the next level. Addison’s route running features acceleration, dynamic steering and sudden turns at a moment’s notice. While he can get to the spot effectively, he has trouble consistently winning battles when he has coverage company beside him. While Addison failed to make the same impact he did in 2021, his usage at Pitt might be a better indicator of the type of role and production he could be capable of on the next level.

Strengths

  • Possesses athleticism and speed to work anywhere on the football field.
  • Early drive burst regardless of route depth.
  • Smart use of footwork defeats coverage leverage.
  • Accelerates through stems for separation to the post.
  • Good sink and foot agility getting in and out of breaks.
  • Ability to run complex routes with effectiveness.
  • Can be a slippery runner after the catch.
  • Punt return experience in all three seasons.

Weaknesses

  • Only two touchdown catches over last seven games.
  • Route timing can be disrupted by handsy corners.
  • Limited catch radius for off-target throws.
  • Needs better timing in working back to throws.
  • Deep-ball tracking can be a little inconsistent.
  • Unable to create catch space downfield against size.
  • Average hand strength to finish through contact.

Sources Tell Us

“NFL hashes will give him more room as a route runner to help outquick coverage. He needs it because he’s not that strong.” — Personnel director for NFC team

Projection: First-round

NFL Comparison: Tyler Lockett

33rd Team / Greg Cosell

Background:

Addison played one season at USC after transferring from Pittsburgh, where in 2021 he won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver with 100 receptions for 1,593 yards and 17 TD. In his one season at USC, Addison went 59-875-14.8-8 TD.

Addison lined up outside and in the slot in USC’s offense, and there were snaps he aligned in the backfield. A 35-yard TD versus UCLA came from offset backfield alignment to the boundary with Addison running H seam. Addison was featured on bubble and tunnel screens and swing passes off orbit motion to take advantage of his run-after-catch ability.

Positives:

  • Flexibility to line up both outside and in slot and be a factor at all three levels of the defense. Smooth and fluid.
  • Consistently showed excellent hands with the easy ability to catch the ball away from his frame. Soft hands.
  • Attacked the ball in the air when demanded. Played bigger than his size, showing contested catch traits.
  • Explosive burst and acceleration off LOS when he had free access. Generated speed and broke down cushions.
  • Showed a sense of pace and tempo on different routes to attack and set up corners and safeties. Never hurried.
  • Outstanding route and separation quickness. Showed explosive burst-acceleration and stopping ability.
  • Understood how to use his vertical stem to break down corners. Separation generator at the top of route stem.
  • Showed body control and hands on vertical back shoulder throws. Excellent tracking the ball and adjusting.
  • Defeated press coverage with short area quickness and burst. Did not allow press to disrupt route timing.
  • Run-after-catch traits with natural quickness and short area burst. Sudden and explosive with ball in his hands.

Negatives:

  • Thin-framed, slight build without much room to get bigger. Play strength could be an issue at the next level.
  • Did not see Addison make many catches through contact. Can he work the middle of the field effectively?

Bottom Line:

Addison will give an offense location versatility as he transitions to the next level with his flexibility to line up outside and in the slot (and at times in the backfield), and be deployed as a motion receiver. Addison may not be big, but he played bigger than his size, aggressively attacking the ball in the air and making tough contested catches that demanded high-level concentration with body control and strong, yet soft hands.

Addison is a smooth, fluid route runner with an understanding of how to use his vertical stem to attack and break down corners, and he was an efficient separation generator at the top of his route stem. Addison is not a true vertical burner, but he understands leverage and how to win early in the route to create vertical separation, and what consistently stood out was his play speed that resulted in him creating needed separation.

Addison will transition to the NFL as an inside-outside receiver who can run multiple routes at all three levels, in addition to being featured on tunnel screens, bubble screens and jet reverses. Some might put him in the slot box due to his slim frame, but Addison is more than that, and there is no doubt he can be multi-dimensional weapon in the context of a complete passing game.

College Film

Career Highlights

Addison vs. Utah (2022)

Addison vs. UCLA (2022)

Addison vs. Stanford (2022)

Addison vs. Rice (2022)

Fit with the Vikings

Addison will compete immediately for the WR2 spot across from Justin Jefferson. He is among the most advanced route-runners of any wide receiver in the 2023 draft class, able to work a full route tree, both outside and in the slot, and at all levels of the field.

Addison has been very productive in college against man coverage and may help take some attention away from Justin Jefferson.

Poll

What level will Jordan Addison reach in the NFL?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    All-Pro
    (20 votes)
  • 15%
    Top Ten in his position group
    (32 votes)
  • 55%
    Above average starter
    (112 votes)
  • 12%
    Average starter
    (25 votes)
  • 3%
    Below average starter
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    He won’t be a starter
    (4 votes)
201 votes total Vote Now