Vikings Drafted Their New X-Factor

ESPN Labels Vikings "Achilles' Heel"
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The Minnesota Vikings had an above-average offense in the first year of the Kevin O’Connell era as the team’s head coach. That offense was the major reason for the 13-4 record and the first division title since 2017. Despite the success, there are some things to improve, like the rushing game. One of the newest Vikings is expected to have an immediate impact.

Vikings Drafted Their New X-Factor

Offensively, the Vikings ranked 8th in points and 7th in yards per game. The 11th-most yards per play and the 3rd-most first downs imply that the offense was efficient, especially the passing attack produced excellent numbers – 5th in yards and 4th in touchdowns.

Vikings Drafted Their New X-Factor
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However, the Vikings made an adjustment to the arsenal of Kirk Cousins. Adam Thielen was released and replaced by Jordan Addison. The obvious difference between the two is age. Addison is 21, while Thielen will turn 33 in August. The rookie was the 23rd overall pick and the only selection of the Vikings in the first 100 picks. That shows how much the organization liked him, as they could’ve easily addressed the bad defense with that valuable choice.

The talented receiver was designated as the team’s offensive x-factor by CBS Sports. He closely edged out a teammate of his in the opinion of Jared Dubin.

You can easily make an argument for Alexander Mattison here given that he will be stepping into the shoes previously filled for quite a while by Dalvin Cook. But NFL offenses tend to go as far as their passing game can take them, and Addison is the player in the best position to help take that facet of Minnesota’s offense to the next level.

He doesn’t have great size or elite speed, but Addison is a master technician able to generate separation from nearly any defensive back with ease. How well he works as a complement to Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson will likely determine the ceiling of this offense.

The lack of size and speed is indeed the biggest cause for concern surrounding Addison. He weighed in at 171 lbs at the scouting combine and is one of the lightest receivers in the NFL. In addition, those lighter receivers are usually extremely quick and fast, but Addison clocked in with average numbers in the drills that are supposed to measure that.

image courtesy of Kent Lee Platte

It should be noted that he recorded those testing numbers with a minor back injury which may have slightly slowed him down.

Addison will still help the Vikings’ offense if he is as good as advertised. He was an extremely successful receiver in college and even won the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s best receiver in 2021 when he formed a lethal duo with Steelers QB Kenny Pickett in Pittsburgh. After his transfer to USC, he played with Caleb Williams – the projected first-overall pick in next year’s draft – in Lincoln Riley’s offense and led the team in catches, touchdowns, and yards.

3 Rookies Could
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The rookie wins with savvy route running and his refined technique, which is why he is expected to hit the ground running instead of requiring years of improvement, like some raw WRs. However, he has been dealing with an injury since his rookie minicamp and subsequently missed OTAs and mandatory minicamp, which may have delayed his eventual breakout. The Vikings have always emphasized that it is just for precautionary reasons. Addison is expected to be ready for training camp.

At this point, veteran K.J. Osborn should be considered the frontrunner to be the WR2 next to Justin Jefferson in the offense, but the rookie will have a chance to claim that spot in training camp. He is a talented player and will push Osborn for snaps sooner rather than later, even if he doesn’t win the job initially.

If Addison is the real deal, Kevin O’Connell’s offense in his second season has tremendous upside. The lack of a true outside threat other than Jefferson was a problem in the past, and the decision-makers addressed it by bringing in the college star.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt