Vikings Fans Have Spoken on WR Draft Preference

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

A popular but not universally accepted theory in the Minnesota Vikings community involves the team potentially selecting a wide receiver in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Why would the franchise do such a thing? Well, Adam Thielen, 32, experienced diminished production in 2022 and has a cap hit of $19.9 million in 2023. He may or may not return to the club next season. Too, opposing defensive coordinators will continue to laser-focus on Justin Jefferson during Vikings games, making the call for a productive WR2 on Sundays a necessity.

Vikings Fans Have Spoken on WR Draft Preference

Left up to Vikings fans, folks have a preference for the next WR2 if that man is plucked from April’s draft — Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Fans Have Spoken
Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl against the Utah Utes in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 1, 2022. © Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

We polled Vikings on Twitter, and 40.9% of respondents are ready for Smith-Njigba.

The poll was unscientific, and 2,771 people opined.

Recent mock drafts have theorized Smith-Njigba to Minnesota as well. Devin Jackson of the Philadelphia Inquirer envisioned a Vikings union with the Ohio State product last week, “With Justin Jefferson emerging into a star and Adam Thielen aging, the Vikings need another true playmaker at receiver, and Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba checks those boxes, especially as a creative and nuanced route runner who operates mostly from the slot.”

Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch.

Last month, Draft Wire’s Natalie Miller did the same thing with Smith-Njigba to Vikings in a mock draft. She explained the selection, “Smith Njigba missed the majority of this season with injuries, but his 2021 campaign was astonishing and should project him well to the NFL. While he’s more of an inside receiver, he has the ability to play outside, as well, and would create a dangerous trio in Minnesota.”

If the Vikings don’t draft a WR2 early in the NFL draft, they’d call upon Thielen once again for WR2 duty at a handsome price, a free agent like Darius Slayton or D.J. Chark — or roll with an in-house option like K.J. Osborn, Jalen Nailor, or Jalen Reagor.

The Draft Network describes Smith-Njigba’s skillset, “Smith-Njigba is an outstanding route-runner and separator where his deceptive footwork, body control, ability to read leverage, make sight adjustments, and run to open space made him consistently available for C.J. Stroud to work him the football in 2021.”

Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports.

His weaknesses include speed, as the 21-year-old isn’t the fastest wideout in this year’s class. He also played just one full season at Ohio State, the 2021 campaign, when he nabbed 95 receptions for 1,606 yards and 9 touchdowns. Smith-Njigba battled a hamstring injury in his final year as a Buckeye.

If the Vikings don’t use 1st-Round draft capital on a wide receiver, off-ball linebacker, interior defensive line, cornerback, and EDGE rusher are popular positions for improvement.

The NFL draft begins on April 27th in Kansas City.

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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