Every football fan looks forward to the NFL draft. But, as I’ve established in like six articles this month, I feel (anecdotally) that Minnesota Vikings fans extra look forward to the Draft as it is a main component of the time of year I’ve dubbed ‘The Pretendies’.
Sigh. The Pretendies: A Time of Year where ANYTHING is possible… Theoretically.
The 2021 Draft is a huge opportunity for the Vikings, more so than any draft during the Zimmer era.
Sure, the 2020 version had 15-picks and landed Justin Jefferson (among others), but the Vikings can use the disappointing 2020 season as a learning moment and use the draft to plug the holes that helped sink the longship beneath the surface that would be a .500 record.
With the Vikings already near-or-over the salary cap BEFORE the 2021 COVID-cap (which is reportedly a ~ $20 million year-to-year drop) kicks in. That means that they may actually have more holes to fill than we previously anticipated (unless the NFL does the right thing).
I’ve laid all out in this recent article:
But let’s take a quick stroll through what the Vikings needs are now, as we don’t really know what current players may be on the chopping block due to the gigantic catastrophe the COVID cap brings that is as avoidable as it is tone deaf.
The Vikings were without multiple core players on defense in 2020, some of which need a salary restructure (Anthony Barr), a new deal (Danielle Hunter), or need to play period (Michael Pierce). Let’s just assuming they’ll be on the team next season and get into the core positions of need for this Vikings team.
We should also dig a bit deeper as, well full disclosure, I LOVE the wide receiver position and as the Vikings are forever looking for a reliable third option, I thought I’d delve into the options the Vikings may have on Day 3 of the Draft.
In this series, I’ll go through who I think is best receiver per type of receiver (big bodied, deep threat, slot, hybrid, etc) while also looking for someone DEEP into the draft as the Vikings would be… Me… If they used another top pick on the position.
The First Wide Receiver of the Pretendies
Whether you watch football for football or are lucky enough to live in a state (or country) where you can take part in sports betting online with Unibet, you know that the Minnesota Vikings need a third wide receiver upon whom they can depend.
Insanely, Justin Jefferson started the season (and first two weeks) as the third receiver behind Adam Thielen and Bisi Johnson. Because of the lack of success this team has had finding a reliable third receiver these last couple years, people elevated Johnson’s sub-mediocre 2019 to a level that wasn’t warranted.
You may be asking why I’m focusing on a third receiver for a team that runs the ball 55% of the time. That’s an honest criticism, DAD, but I and the team wouldn’t be looking for a top tier receiver as their third guy. But rather, someone who can do something specific at a high level.
Imagine a large bodied receiver who has the size and ups to bring in jump balls in the end-zone. Someone who can also block as well as they can control their body, who may only get one or three looks a week (with each look being an important one).
Think Jarius Wright, or in this case, Jarius Wright sitting on Jarius Wright’s shoulders. Wright usually only had his number called to pick up big first downs, for example, and that’s something the Vikings need and needn’t spend a top pick on.
Who fits that Bill?
There are a few tall/long receivers in the 2021 Draft class that the Vikings should look for.
Colorado State’s Warren Jackson is 6-foot-6, 219 pounds, and is known as a great pass catching receiver. His size is apparent, as he’s bigger than a lot of tight ends, and he uses his size to his advantage.
He doesn’t run the best routes but he does a great job of securing the ball and that’s something every Vikings fan knows isn’t always a gimme from the third receiver.
DraftScout.com breaks down Jackson’s tenure:
“Jackson was named the 2020 preseason Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year after a 2019 junior campaign where he was named a first-team All-Mountain West selection. The Mission Hills, Calif., native led the team with 77 catches for 1,119 yards and eight touchdowns over 10 games. His 77 catches rank fifth-best for a single season in program history while his 1,119 yards rank eighth.
Against Toledo, Jackson tallied the third-most receptions in a single game with 12 and his 214 yards against New Mexico rank eighth for a single-game performance at Colorado State. – Colorado State Football”
The best part? Draft sites have him listed as a fifth-or-sixth round pick! That means the Vikings can use their top picks on the offensive line (I’m kidding, we all know Spielman/Zimmer will go corner, corner, trade down for all the 7th-rounders, edge). If they are able to draft a Wyatt Davis from Ohio State, they could finally have a not god awful pass-blocking unit protecting Cousins.
Imagine that. Cousins, with time, throwing to Thielen, Jefferson and a guy like Jackson?
Of course, it is difficult to say what players are going to be available in the NFL 2021 Draft. But, this is the Pretendies damn it. And that means anything is possible!