The Next Step for the Vikings’ Jordan Addison

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Jordan Addison has been doing some good things at training camp.

Before arriving, though, he got into the headlines for the wrong reasons. As most Vikings fans know by now, the talented receiver was pulled over due to driving insanely fast. Thank God, no one was hurt, but this was a bad mistake that can’t happen again.

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To his credit, Addison accepted responsibility while facing the media. “I take full responsibility,” Addison explained, “and full ownership of my actions last week. It’s never a good thing when KOC or Kwesi got to answer questions or address questions about me off the field, so I just want to apologize to everyone for that.”

Several follow-up questions were asked, but the young receiver chose to keep things vague due to the legal nature of the issue. He continued to reiterate that it was a “poor decision” and that he accepts responsibility for what he did.

As an opening-round selection, Addison was already under the spotlight, especially since he’s being tasked with replacing Adam Thielen. The early mistake off the field further magnifies the pressure, so the young receiver will need to ensure that he brings his words to fruition by using better judgment in the future.

Jordan Addison and the Next Step

Few can question Addison’s talent.

Sure, there are some concerns about his size, or lack thereof. Standing 6’0″ and weighing just 175 pounds, Addison won’t be mistaken for Calvin Johnson when he steps on the field. Nevertheless, very few have concerns about his ability to be a playmaker.

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Seemingly everyone who evaluates his game comes away with the conclusion that he’s a tremendous route runner who can make plays once the ball is in his hands. Those descriptions make me think of Stefon Diggs (who is tipping the scales at 6’0″, 191), a similarly undersized receiver who wins due to his compete and precision.

Obviously, there’s a long way to go to start mirroring Diggs and it’s entirely possible that Minnesota’s 1st-round receiver never reaches those heights. Nevertheless, there’s some precedent for smaller receivers playing really well, as Vikings fans should know.

The NFL’s website came up with a different comparison, indicating that Addison’s game is reminiscent of Tyler Lockett. Lance Zierlein offers the assessment: “Inside/outside wideout with the speed and agility to work confidently on all three levels of the field, but lacking the size and catch strength generally associated with high-impact performers on the next level. Addison’s route running features acceleration, dynamic steering and sudden turns at a moment’s notice.”

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The scouting report features positives and negatives, reasons for both optimism and pessimism. Critically, Addison won’t be able to prove the doubt wrong by affirming the positive if he doesn’t continue doing the right thing off the field.

Yes, the next step for the young receiver — he’s just 21 — is to continue making smart decisions away from the field. On a day-in, day-out basis, Addison needs to ensure he doesn’t replicate his earlier mistake.

Active and ongoing, the off-the-field next step is a daily commitment to not putting himself and others in such a dangerous position on the roads. Doing so will then allow for him to take the next step as a football player.

K.J. Osborn is going to represent difficult competition to be the WR2. The catalyst behind the historic Colts comeback, Osborn is a great veteran who consistently demonstrates top-notch hustle and compete. Given the opportunity, Osborn is likely to show that his ceiling is higher than the 650(ish)-yard receiver we’ve seen from recent years.

Of course, Addison will have a lot to say in how many targets Osborn gets. The former USC receiver looks like the plan to be the main receiver beside Justin Jefferson, an enviable position. On a weekly basis, Jefferson is going to get a disproportionate focus from the defense. As a result, the WR2 in Minnesota’s offense is going to see a lot of favorable looks. It’s vital that whoever is in that position finds a way of making plays.

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As long as he reaches his potential, Jordan Addison will be the receiver who punishes defense for overloading on Jefferson.

During training camp, Addison has been turning heads. There have been encouraging posts on social media — Examples 1, 2, & 3 — with clips of him making plays. No reason to assume he has fully arrived, but certainly reason to be hopeful for what he can do on Sunday.

Minnesota begins their season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, and Antoine Winfield Jr. in the defense backfield, the Bucs have the firepower to challenge Mr. Jefferson. If he continues doing the right things on and off the field, Addison will have an early opportunity show he’s a capable WR2 in the NFL.