One of the Minnesota Vikings' biggest weaknesses last season was the depth at wide receiver. With the exception of Justin Jefferson, the Vikings wideouts struggled to win their individual matchups, which put a lot of pressure on Jefferson to carry the offense. Ever since Adam Thielen was released by the Vikings, the talent level at the position has only gotten worse.
With free agency now in the rear-view mirror, the Vikings' focus has shifted toward evaluating players in this year’s draft class. So far, the team has interviewed some first-round prospects at wide receiver including Zay Flowers, Quentin Johnston, and Jordan Addison. Addison was once considered to be one of the best receivers of his class, but his draft stock has taken a slight hit due to his underwhelming Combine performance.
That could be good news for the Minnesota Vikings, who are in desperate need of a complementary wide receiver who can take some pressure off of Justin Jefferson. The Vikings have been doing their due diligence on Jordan Addison, with him already having his second interview with the Vikings. Kevin O’Connell said in an interview that he’s looking for a wide receiver who can win their individual matchups and can make things happen after the catch, and Jordan Addison has some of those traits that O’Connell wants from his receivers.
Jordan Addison’s biggest strength is his route-running ability. Not only has he mastered the art of running clean routes, but he’s able to sell his routes exceptionally well. I wouldn’t go as far to say that he’s as good as Justin Jefferson in that regard, but he’s pretty close. Addison is also good at catching the ball with his hands and not his body, which makes him that much more reliable. These two positive traits make Jordan Addison a very safe pick in the first round.
The downside of drafting Jordan Addison is the lack of upside he offers compared to other first-round prospects. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers, and Quentin Johnston are all more athletic than Addison is. Addison also lacks physicality which is prominent whenever he is blocking or tries to beat press coverage. For these reasons, Jordan Addison may never be a truly elite wideout in the NFL, but Addison projects as a high-end WR2, which is exactly what the Vikings need.
The real question is, will Jordan Addison fall all the way to 23? There are several wide receiver-needy teams that are above the Vikings in the draft. The earliest I could see a wide receiver being drafted is the 8th overall pick, which belongs to the Falcons. From there, you have the Titans at 11, the Texans at 12, the Patriots at 14, the Packers at 15, the Lions at 18, the Chargers at 21, and the Ravens at 22. That’s seven teams who could be vying for four wide receivers. If the Vikings are adamant about drafting a wide receiver in the first round, they may need to trade up to get their guy. I’m not sure if Minnesota has the resources to trade up, and even if they did, I don’t think trading up in the first round is something Kwesi Adofo-Mensah would actually do.
What’s more likely is that the Vikings trade back from 23 and reassess their options when they’re back on the clock. If they trade out of the first round completely, they’d be looking at drafting guys like Josh Downs, Jalin Hyatt, and Tank Dell. None of these players would fit well on the Vikings roster. That’s not to say they’re bad players, but Downs and Dell are slot-only wide receivers due to their small size. Meanwhile, Jalin Hyatt is a very raw prospect who wouldn’t be able to handle a heavy workload right away. This draft class is filled with a bunch of short slot receivers, and there aren’t a lot of players that can play both inside and outside reliably.
What the Vikings need is someone who can play the majority of snaps on the outside. KJ Osborn, Jalen Nailor, and Jalen Reagor are all smaller wide receivers. You don’t necessarily need someone like Quentin Johnston who is 6’3” and weighs over 200 pounds, but Minnesota doesn’t have room to draft another slot wide receiver. Getting someone who is at least of average build and has proven to be able to play on the outside is critical. The four wide receivers that are projected to go in the first round can all fill that role, but Addison is the one who is most likely to be available at 23.
If the Vikings are fortunate enough to have Jordan Addison fall to them, it may be too good of an opportunity to pass up on.