It’s WR for Vikings in CBS Sports January Mock Draft

Before Christmas, CBS Sports had Olave on the brain for the Minnesota Vikings, who hold the 12th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft if the event was held today. Analyst Chris Trapasso sent Ohio State’s Chris Olave to the Vikings.

Well, Mr. Trapasso changed things up on Thursday – but not too wildly.

Instead of Olave in his latest mock draft, Trapasso sent Olave’s teammate, Garrett Wilson, to Minnesota. Wilson accrued over 1,000 receiving yards in 11 games in 2021, adding 12 touchdowns. Trapasso briefly wrote about Wilson to the Vikings:

” Given Adam Thielen’s age and the fact his 2021 ended on injured reserve, the Vikings should be looking at more receiver help opposite Justin Jefferson. Wilson is a high-end prospect.”

Sat., Nov. 20, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Garrett Wilson (5) celebrates after a touchdown with teammate Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Chris Olave (2). Mandatory Credit: Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch via USA TODAY Network. Cfb Michigan State Spartans At Ohio State Buckeyes

The working theory on either Olave or Wilson to the Vikings is gradual preparation for eventual life without Thielen, indeed. Quietly, Thielen has not tallied a 1,000+ yard receiving season since 2018 – the first year of the Kirk Cousins era – but has contributed more touchdowns than his pre-2019 output. Thielen has steadily morphed into a touchdown machine more so than a “yards guy.” And as Justin Jefferson rapidly ascends to NFL stardom, another wide receiver will be necessary if Thielen’s last three seasons of gradual yards-decline continue. To be sure, Thielen doesn’t “need to go” in 2022 or anything like that. But he’ll be 32 in August, so contingency plans should be formulated if he misses time again in 2022.

K.J. Osborn played wonderfully for a WR3 in 2021 and might just bust out into a WR2 role as he matures. On Garrett Wilson, he’d probably be ready for WR2 on day one, partnering immediately with Jefferson to form a potentially deadly duo for Kirk Cousins or the next quarterback.

Wilson, a slot receiver, is 6’0″ and 192 pounds. Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network describes Wilson like this:

“Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson is a dynamic threat with the ball in his hands and offers the kind of run after catch ability that is sure to command a role at the NFL level. Wilson, who is a part of the crowded wide receiver room in Columbus and has enjoyed a career year in 2021, projects best to the NFL game as a slot receiver, where his short-area agility will afford him more room to work and create space and he can be more naturally crafted quick touches for an offense that commands spacing issues with a prominent vertical passing attack.”

Because the aforementioned Thielen isn’t scheduled to fall off a cliff as early as 2022, wide receiver will not be the Vikings most pressing need in the 2022 NFL Draft. That label belongs to either cornerback, EDGE rusher, or linebacker. Although, fans rarely complain about a shiny new rookie wide receiver.

Why? Because the Vikings have a remarkable history in drafting WRs (Randy Moss, Percy Harvin, Justin Jefferson, etc.) and employing young stud WRs, too (Cris Carter). Per roster depth, though, the Vikings need a defender more than a pass catcher. We shall see.

For what it’s worth, in Trapasso’s mock draft, Wilson was the first wide receiver off the board. At least the Vikings front office got the top man at his position on the board. Wilson’s teammate, Olave, was selected with the next pick by the Cleveland Browns.

The NFL draft begins on April 28.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).