This may be one of the deepest wide receiver corps that the Minnesota Vikings have had in quite some time. The big questions that remain, though, are whether or not there is a true No. 1 receiver on the roster, how will all the young players develop this season, and whether or not there will be a 1,000-yard receiver this season.
On the roster: Moritz Böhringer, Stefon Diggs, Isaac Fruechte, Charles Johnson, Marken Michel, Cordarrelle Patterson, Terrell Sinkfield, Troy Stoudermire, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Jarius Wright
Projected starters: Stefon Diggs, Laquon Treadwell
Having Treadwell listed as one of the top two receivers seems to be a little contrary to what the Vikings have been showing on the field so far this offseason. It has been Diggs and Johnson working as the two starters during organized team activities and minicamp, and it will probably be that way when the team starts training camp too.
It’s also very possible that it remains like that into the start of the regular season, but the Vikings drafted Treadwell to be quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s No. 1 receiving option and you have to think that is going to come to fruition sooner than later. Odds are it will be this season, but the Vikings coaching staff has also shown that they are not afraid to make rookies sit and wait their turn.
Since Mike Zimmer took over as the team’s head coach in 2014, Anthony Barr and T.J. Clemmings have been the only rookies to start from Day 1 of the regular season, and Clemmings only started because of an injury. Eric Kendricks started in the nickel package from Day 1, but not in the base defense.
Diggs, on the other hand, seems to be a no-brainer pick to be one of the starters at the beginning of the season. He became the Vikings’ leading receiver last year as a rookie, totaling 52 receptions for 720 yards and four touchdowns, despite missing three games.
He displayed excellent route-running ability as well as good hands, good speed and an ability to create big plays. Diggs’ performance did trail off in the second half of the season when teams began to focus on him more, but that shouldn’t happen as much with either a healthy Johnson, Treadwell or some other No. 1 option playing next to him.
Keep an eye on
The Minnesota Vikings traded back up into the first round of the 2013 draft to select Patterson. He is a big-bodied receiver with all the athletic ability in the world, but he was also very raw. The plan was to groom him into a No. 1 receiving option for whoever was going to be their quarterback of the future, but that plan did not take place as soon as they would have liked.
He was relatively productive when he saw the field as a rookie, but that production became less and less as his career continued, until it reached an all-time low last season when he recorded just two receptions for 10 yards, despite being active for all 16 regular season games.
This season marks the end of his rookie deal, so it is his last chance to make an impression before he hits the free agent market. He appears to have turned things around in OTAs and minicamp, but now he needs to carry that into padded practices and actual games. If he is able to, he will add even more depth to an already deep wide receiver group and add another dangerous weapon for Bridgewater.
Wright’s role on the team:
Wright is the most veteran wide receiver on the Vikings roster, but his role seems to be undefined so far. He has been the team’s slot receiver the past couple seasons and has seemed to thrive in that role, but he may get lost in the depth chart this year if both Johnson and Patterson are able to bounce back.
He was working with the second- and third-team offenses during OTAs and minicamp after signing a four-year extension last year worth $14.8 million, so it is clear the organization saw a future involving him, but that could change if other options continue to emerge around him.
Which players make the 53-man roster:
As previously stated, although there isn’t a proven No. 1-type receiver, there is a lot of talent in this group and not everyone is going to make the 53-man roster. The team kept six wide receivers on their roster last season and odds are that will be the magic number again this year, which means some talented guys will need to be finding work elsewhere.
At some point this season the two starting receivers are likely going to be Diggs and Treadwell, with Johnson, Patterson and Wright fighting for the role as the team’s third receiver on the depth chart. Thielen with then round out the group of receivers on the 53-man roster and he will likely see the field from time to time, but his role could be mainly be on special teams.
The Vikings will then sign one or two of the receivers they cut to the practice squad, and which ones solely depends on how they perform at training camp and in the preseason. If they had to choose today, though, it would probably be Boehringer because of the potential he possesses and Fruechte because of his experience in the offense and because they probably would feel most comfortable calling him up to the active roster if one of their six guys went down with an injury.