Vikings Rookie Draws Exciting Prediction
No more preseason and training camp; the regular season is about to start. The Minnesota Vikings kick their season off with a home game hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 10th. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has set his 53-man roster, and roughly a third of the athletes are new in the organization. One of them could have a significant impact on the 2023 Vikings.
Vikings Rookie Draws Exciting Prediction
To save some cap space, the Vikings parted ways with a trio of franchise cornerstones, including hometown hero Adam Thielen. The wideout started to slow down, and in addition to the savings, the team thought that improving at the position could unlock the offense and elevate the team to elite status on that side of the ball.
Thielen was undoubtedly an important player for the Vikings and became one of the league’s best wideouts out of nowhere, racking up elite yardage numbers. In recent years, he started to become primarily a red zone threat. His last season with at least 1,000 yards came in 2018. Despite not missing time with injury for the first time in years, he only recorded 716 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2022, his lowest totals since 2019.
He was released and moved on to sign with the Carolina Panthers, trying to return to form at age 33. The Vikings, meanwhile, selected his replacement in the first round of the draft, adding Jordan Addison to the roster. Expectations for Addison are sky-high even in his rookie season. ESPN’s Dan Graziano tried to predict one surprise for each team, and the Viking leading all rookie wideouts in receiving yards is his prediction for the purple team.
The Vikings’ offense will still center around Justin Jefferson, because how could it not? But they drafted Addison in the first round for a reason, and he has been nothing short of awesome all summer. He offers an upgrade over what Minnesota got from a 32-year-old Adam Thielen last season, and he can help diversify the passing game and take it to another level in the second year under coach Kevin O’Connell. I wouldn’t be surprising to see Addison push the 80-catch mark in his rookie season, and I think he could do that without cutting into Jefferson’s production very much at all.
Eighty catches is a high number for any player, especially rookies. Garrett Wilson led his draft class with 83 receptions for 1,103 yards in 2022, followed by his college teammate Chris Olave, who racked up 1,042 yards on 72 grabs.
In the previous season, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and Amon-Ra St.Brown recorded more than 80 catches. Chase, Waddle, and tight end Kyle Pitts managed to fire up north of 1,000 yards, with Chase breaking Justin Jefferson’s rookie record. Jefferson was the only rookie to record more than 80 catches in his class, although CeeDee Lamb and Tee Higgins had solid seasons.
Between 2017 and 2019, only the three running backs, Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, and Saquon Barkley, caught 80 or more passes. That task is tough for Addison, but it is not out of the question.
One problem could be the high usage of teammate Jefferson, but his high target share comes with a lot of attention from defenses. That is why Addison could be a main beneficiary, as he is tough to cover in one-on-one matchups without any safety help.
The rookie fired up an outstanding season in Pittsburgh in 2021, enough to earn the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver. After transferring to USC to play in Lincoln Riley’s offensive system, his numbers dropped, but he still led his team in all receiving categories.
Because of his smooth route-running ability with a natural skillet to get open and excellent hands, he is regarded as a high-floor prospect who can hit the ground running in Minnesota.
A second receiving threat on the outside other than Jefferson and, to some extent, K.J. Osborn would turn Kevin O’Connell’s offense into a scary unit with Kirk Cousins at the helm and his ability to spread the ball to his playmakers.
An undisclosed injury slowed him down in the spring workouts, and a concussion cost him a week in training camp, but he has still shown enough to turn heads in the building. The Vikings are excited to have him on the team, and he can be a huge difference-maker. It remains to be seen if he can lead his class in receptions, but the future is bright for the 21-year-old.
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