Mel Kiper’s Draft Curveball for Vikings

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Depending on one’s opinion of K.J. Osborn, the Minnesota Vikings might need a WR2 in the 2023 NFL Draft. And if ESPN’s Mel Kiper gets his way, it could be a man from Texas.

He’s TCU’s Quentin Johnston, a curveball theory for the Vikings because Johnston has tumbled down draft boards since the NFL Combine.

Mel Kiper’s Draft Curveball for Vikings

Johnston was considered a Top 10 pick by many before rookies met in Indianapolis for the grand old workout, but he has slipped in the last month, mainly because he isn’t quite as big as once advertised.

Draft Curveball
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Johnston is actually 6’2″ instead of 6’4,” a revelation that’s evidently a turn-off for general managers. Some draft brains haven’t shed the memory of Kevin White, the seventh overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He was a big wideout who didn’t pan out.

In Kiper’s mock draft last week, he finally departed from picking defensive players for the Vikings, flipping to Johnston as a new running mate for Justin Jefferson. Kiper wrote, “I’m switching gears a bit for the Vikings, as I had projected a cornerback here in my first two mock drafts. They could still go that way, as adding Byron Murphy helps fill their immediate hole. At receiver, though, with Adam Thielen gone, I love the idea of Johnston playing on the other side of Justin Jefferson, helping take defensive backs away.”

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“The 6-foot-3 Johnston will be an immediate red zone threat in the NFL, and his skills after the catch mean he will break a bunch of tackles and score long touchdowns. I know K.J. Osborn has earned a bigger role in the Minnesota offense, but there’s room for Johnston too,” Kiper added.

Kiper seems to have settled in the middle of “the two heights,” labeling Johnston at 6-foot-3. Johnston placed in the 99th percentile for broad jump and a 95th percentile vertical at the Combine but opted not to run the 40-yard dash. He’s considered physically gifted beyond belief and could light up a team’s offense in September.

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Johnston doesn’t have many weaknesses per se, but other prospects in the draft are said to be better at beating man coverage, while he also isn’t the cream of the crop via contested catches. In his final hurrah at TCU in 2022, Johnston grabbed 60 receptions for 1,069 yards and 6 touchdowns — for a whopping 17.8 yards per catch. Not bad.

The Vikings need a WR2 for life after Adam Thielen, who left for the Carolina Panthers eight days ago, especially if head coach Kevin O’Connell won’t roll with WR3 K.J. Osborn. Otherwise, if not Johnston, per Kiper’s recommendation, Minnesota can still sign Odell Beckham from free agency or draft one of Johnston’s draft peers — Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State), Zay Flowers (Boston College), or Jordan Addison (USC).

Johnston is only 21 years old, the age at which Minnesota drafted Justin Jefferson two years ago.

If it is Johnston for the Vikings, the team would have a JJ, T.J., K.J., and QJ as its primary offensive playmakers.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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