K.J. Osborn’s Leadership Is Next Level

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K.J. Osborn came to the Minnesota Vikings in the 2020 draft. Justin Jefferson joined the team in the first round, and Osborn received a call from Rick Spielman in the fifth round. Of course, the focus was on Jefferson, and Osborn was initially a forgotten player. His role working exclusively as a returner didn’t help to gain more attention.

K.J. Osborn’s Leadership Is Next Level

Leadership Is Next Level
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After not playing a single snap on offense in his rookie season, he was viewed as an afterthought, a player on the roster bubble that might not make the team. That happens to late-round picks all the time, and it wouldn’t have been that much of a shocker after the team drafted Kene Nwanwgu to take over the return duties.

However, Osborn changed the narrative with a breakout training camp performance, not just keeping his roster spot but unexpectedly winning the WR3 job next to Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, and therefore, playing a significant role in Klint Kubiak’s offense.

After two seasons of having the WR3 role, Osborn is suddenly the old guy in the receiving room and is supposed to be a leader for the young players. One of those students is Jordan Addison, a first-round rookie.

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Every time a rookie is drafted in the first round, he is expected to contribute early, and the expectations for Addison are that he can steal some of Osborn’s snaps and targets. The veteran looked like the sure WR2 after the departure of Adam Thielen, especially because the Vikings didn’t add anyone in free agency.

But Osborn doesn’t view it that way. He wants to help the new star instead of starting a feud out of jealousy. He has a clear goal for 2023, and fans will appreciate it.

We drafted a receiver but I want to win a Super Bowl, I’m out there with Jordan. I told him, it’s actually easier for him to come with the first team so I can just tell him what he got to do every time until he can pick it up. Me and JJ have taken him under our wings. I want to see him have the best career that he can have. He’s a young kid coming into the NFL so I’ll be there for him. Yeah, it’s competition but at the end of the day, we’re all on the same team with the same goal.

K.J. Osborn

That is even more remarkable because Osborn is in his contract year. His production determines the paycheck he will get in next year’s free agency or from the Vikings.

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Addison started training camp with the second team but was elevated to the first when Jalen Nailor missed time with an injury. Since then, Addison has been a staple of the first-team offense, just like Osborn.

Osborn, the former Buffalo and Miami receiver, recorded 655 and 650 yards in the last two seasons, most of which came in a few games each year. He has positioned himself as a reliable clutch receiver for quarterback Kirk Cousins but must be more consistent throughout the season.

Addison entered the league as a refined route-runner with a natural WR ability. His rise to stardom seems inevitable, and the help from his veteran teammates will help him get the most out of himself and have the best possible chance to be a successful football team.


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

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