Day 2 & 3 WR Prospects for the Vikings

Oct 29, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA; Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Jonathan Mingo (1) catches a pass against the Texas A&M Aggies in the second half at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports.

One of the many positions people believe the Vikings may look at with their first-round draft pick is wide receiver. The departure of Adam Thielen has left an opening for the WR2 in Minnesota. KJ Osborn is the next man up in-house and could be seen as the man for the job by the Vikings coaching staff.

How highly Osborn is rated will determine how high the Vikings prioritize a wide receiver in the draft. I previously looked at WR2 draft prospects that would likely take a first-round selection. Now, it’s time to look at Day 2/3 WR prospects for the Vikings.

Should the Vikings be happy with Osborn and TJ Hockenson from tight end as Justin Jefferson’s main support or see defense as a bigger priority, they may wait until Day 2 or even Day 3 of the draft to add to the WR ranks.

Day 2 & 3 WR Prospects for the Vikings

I’ll start with a pair of wide receivers from the same college that has been the center of much discussion. The Tennessee duo of Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman are two of the better Day 2 prospects and are very different wide receivers. Tillman was “the guy” in Tennessee in 2021 with a 1000-yard season and 12 touchdowns. An ankle injury kept his 2022 season to just six games, and Hyatt took over with a 1200-yard season and 15 touchdowns. The doubt surrounding both is they each only have one season of top-end production.

Tillman is a big physical receiver (6’3, 213 lbs) with a massive catch radius and safe pair of hands who plays on the outside. He lacks the skills to be a WR1, but the Vikings don’t need that with Jefferson on the team. The Vikings can utilize him, and he will excel, as a lead blocker in the screen game, an area the Vikings were poor last season.

Hyatt is all about speed (4.40s 40-yard dash time), and his role would be to stretch the field. He is twitchy, elusive, and explosive, which makes him a dangerous threat. Both players must adjust from Tennessee’s extreme spread tempo offense. The player you prefer will depend on if you want speed or physicality.

Speed Guys

WR Prospects for
Nov 19, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Matt Landers (3) reacts after catching a pass for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Ole Miss Rebels at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s look at the top-end speed guys who put up the fastest 40-yard dash times. Derius Davis (4.36s), Bryce Ford-Wheaton, (4.38s), Trey Palmer, (4.33s), and Matt Landers (4.37s) could be worth taking a punt on with a Day 3 pick.

The player I like in the “speed role” is Tyler Scott, an explosive athlete with elite speed that enables him to win vertically. He has the separation skills to win on all three levels. He might never be the number one guy, but once again, that’s not what the Vikings need. Scott can open the game up with his speed as the Vikigs WR2.

The Vikings already have Jalen Nailor on the roster — the 6th-round pick from last year had a 4.39-second 40-yard dash time on record but then ran a disappointing 4.50-second time at the 2022 combine. We saw glimpses of him last season, enough to know his speed is real and translates to the gridiron. So raw speed alone shouldn’t be a priority.

The Big Guys

Sep 17, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Jonathan Mingo (1) makes a catch past Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back Zamari Walton (7) in the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

Alternatively, you have the 200 lbs plus wide receivers like AT Perry, Jonathan Mingo, Michael Wilson, Xavier Hutchinson, and Puka Nacua. A popular name leading up to the draft has been Ole Miss WR Mingo. At 6’2 and 220 lbs, it’s obvious where his strength lies. Mingo isn’t a polished route runner and hasn’t shown the ability or speed to get away from defenders down the field. He wins with power when defeating man coverage and is difficult to bring down once the ball is in his hands. He’d be a different and intriguing player for Kevin O’Connell to work with.

The guy I like as a Day 3 pick is Wake Forest WR, AT Perry. He came in lighter than reported at the combine (198 lbs), but his basketball background is evident at 6’3 1/2. Perry is versatile, able to play from any alignment and use his sizeable frame and reach to make plays. He would be more of a rotational player with upside if he can improve his release and ability to gain separation.

Slot Receivers

Feb 2, 2023; Mobile, AL, USA; American wide receiver Rashee Rice of SMU (11) practices during the third day of Senior Bowl week at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports.

During his first two seasons in Minnesota, Osborn has been seen as the slot receiver. That’s not entirely accurate, as O’Connell moves his receivers around, and Osborn has had opportunity on the outside. Last season he ran 375 (59.1%) routes from the slot and 259 (40.8%) from out wide. Jefferson and Thielen combined for over 500 routes from the slot. Should the Vikings have confidence in Osborn being the WR2, what they actually need is an Osborn replacement, a WR who is the primary slot receiver but can also play on the outside.

Four receivers fit that mold that the Vikings may be able to get in the third or fourth round. Rashee Rice, Marvin Mims Jr, Kayshon Boutte, and Jayden Reed. Boutte looked set for greatness after a 308-yard game back in 2020. However, a severe ankle injury has derailed his career somewhat. He has not hit the same heights since.

Despite being small (5’11, 183 lbs), Mims makes up for it with speed (4.38s 40-yard dash), making him an explosive playmaker. He offers excellent yards-after-catch ability and plays with a competitive toughness that belies his small stature. Rice is a bigger receiver (6’1, 204 lbs) but also dynamic and has the long speed and balance that makes defenders miss once he catches the football.

Mims and Rice are my favorite options, along with Mingo if you want to go down the power route. Any of those three would improve the depth chart.