Vikings WR Will Remember the Naysayers

Vikings Lower than Preseason Expectations in PFF WR Rankings  
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The Minnesota Vikings lost Adam Thielen to free agency over two weeks ago, and the Minnesotan eventually landed with the Carolina Panthers.

The 32-year-old Thielen joined the NFC South and isn’t coming back anytime soon, thrusting the Vikings into action to find a replacement.

Vikings WR Will Remember the Naysayers

And evidenced by free-agent dealings since Thielen’s departure, signing a “big name” replacement isn’t a priority. Minnesota watched as Mecole Hardman signed with the New York Jets last week, and D.J. Chark attached with Thielen’s Panthers. The free-agent WR market is teensy at the moment, with Odell Beckham as the only viable WR2 available.

But don’t tell Vikings wideout K.J. Osborn about Minnesota’s need for a WR2. They’ve got one — him.

Vikings WR Will
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Presumably opining on the Vikings need for a Justin Jefferson running mate, Osborn somewhat defiantly tweeted Sunday, “Just know I’m keeping tabs ?.”

Here’s the tweet in the flesh:

Osborn has played like a beast — at times — in three seasons after former general manager Rick Spielman scooped the Miami alumnus from the 5th Round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He wasn’t showcased on offense at all during the pandemic season — as in a total shutout on offense; zero snaps — instead redshirting to an extent and only playing special teams.

K.J. Osborn Does It Again
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Fast forward to the summer of 2021, and the Vikings remained in the middle of an undying quest to find a WR3. Since the departure of Jarius Wright after the 2017 season, Mike Zimmer and the gang could find nobody to fill WR3 shoes, employing a hodgepodge of failed solutions, including Laquon Treadwell (after he solidified 1st-Round bust status), Bisi Johnson, Chad Beebe, and Tajae Sharpe. But then Osborn popped out of the woodwork about two years ago, won a summer camp battle, and earned the WR3 gig in back-to-back seasons.

Now, according to him and his tabs, he’s eyeing WR2 responsibilities.

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Of course, current GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could sign Odell Beckham tomorrow or draft Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State), Quentin Johnston (TCU), Zay Flowers (Boston College), or Jordan Addison (USC) in April, making Osborn-as-WR2 or tab-tweets seem buffoonish. That’s not on Osborn’s mind, though.

He’s tabulated 110 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns since seizing the WR3 job in 2021. Meanwhile, Osborn is ranked 48th in targets during the last two seasons with 172, oddly afforded less attention than former Vikings TE Tyler Conklin from 2021-2022.

Osborn would tell naysayers he just needs more targets, opportunities that could be on deck this September if Kevin O’Connell trusts him for the WR2 job.

Finally, while Osborn keeps a running list of reservations about his WR2 acumen, Minnesota always has the T.J. Hockenson contingency plan. Adofo-Mensah traded for the ex-Lions tight end last November, and he more than proved he can handle a Travis Kelce-like workload.

Only 2 Options
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With Hockenson on the roster, perhaps the Vikings don’t need a household name like Beckham or a fancy rookie like Smith-Njigba as the No. 2 option at wide receiver.

A verdict on Osborn as WR2 will be available around midnight on April 28th, when the 2nd and 3rd Rounds of the draft are in the books.

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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