7 Predictions for the Vikings WR2 in 2023

1st Mock Draft Says
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.

VikingsTerritory writers were asked to provide one prediction apiece for the Minnesota Vikings WR2 in Week 1 of the 2023 season.

Longtime Viking Adam Thielen could be moving on this offseason, although the franchise and Thielen are attempting to meet in the middle for his contract. Thielen’s cap hit will tip the scales at $19.9 million in 2023, and the number causes some fans heartburn.

7 Predictions for the Vikings WR2 in 2023

Some predictions will double up as the panel did not use groupthink tactics during the exercise. In those circumstances, consider the prediction all the more popular.

1. Darius Slayton

Vikings Playoff Opponent
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Prediction Maker = Cole Smith

My prediction for the Vikings WR2 in 2023 is Darius Slayton. The Vikings saw him up close and personal in two of their final four games of the 2022 season. His 15.7 yards-per-reception during the year ranked sixth in the NFL, and he has gained at least 700 yards receiving in three of his four seasons.

With a modest price tag, Slayton could be great value to improve the receiver position without breaking the bank.

2. Jordan Addison

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction Maker = Dustin Baker

Even if the beloved Adam Thielen returns in 2023, the Vikings will get bolder and more dangerous at WR2 because, well, this ship is now manned by an offense-first thinker.

In addition to T.J. Hockenson in the middle of the field, Minnesota will ponder ways to be offensively dynamic during games when Justin Jefferson is “bottled up.” The best way to do that is by investing early-round draft capital in a young, affordable-for-five-years wide receiver.

Jordan Addison, it is.

3. D.J. Chark

One Working Theory
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Prediction Maker = Janik Eckardt

The former LSU receiver is a free agent for the second consecutive season.

He played for the Lions in 2022 and recorded over 500 yards in only 11 games. Ankle injuries limited his availability in the last couple of seasons, but Chark possesses top-end speed and, therefore, will draw some attention, something the 2022 Vikings receivers lacked outside Justin Jefferson.

4. Allen Lazard

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Will Goodwin

Drafting an immediate-impact WR will be difficult for Minnesota. Holding only five selections in the 2023 Draft, the Vikings will likely focus on mending their porous defense. Even if Kwesi Adofo-Mensah chooses a receiver in the late rounds, the odds of him becoming an instant WR2 are slim.

Minnesota will turn to the free-agent market to find Justin Jefferson a sidekick but won’t need to go far. Having a strange affinity for pass catchers from Iowa, Kwesi will bring in Allen Lazard. Moving from green to purple has worked for many in the past, just as it will for this prototypical WR2.

5. Best Player Available at No. 23

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, after a 20-17 win over the Washington Commanders in Week 9 of the 2022 regular season.

Prediction Maker = Ted Schwerzler

Rather than a specific name, how about BPA from a WR at pick No. 23. The free agent crop isn’t great, and Adam Thielen is no longer a WR2 even if he returns to Minnesota. The secondary and defense as a whole could use work, but plenty of that could be on coaching some of the youth already in the building. Take the WR you want at 23, and hope you’ve found Justin Jefferson’s running mate.

t6. Adam Thielen

7 Predictions for
Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Adam New

If one of the top wide receivers falls to 23, the Vikings may well pull the trigger. However, I don’t think there will be anyone there the Vikings deem better than what they can get on Day 2. Possibly after a trade back, the Vikings select a WR who may well become WR2, but not immediately.

Thielen’s contract gets worked out to lower the 2023 cap hit, and the Minnesota native has one last year in purple.

t6. Adam Thielen

Analyst Drops Daunting
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction Maker = Mitch Massman

The WR2 in 2023 will be Adam Thielen. Thielen has already hinted they are working on the contract details, which indicates a pay cut will be coming. KJ Osborn has shown flashes but lacked consistency in getting separation. 

On top of this, it seems unlikely the Vikings will select a WR in this year’s draft unless they are very active in signing CBs in free agency.

t7. K.J. Osborn

Explained: The WR Section of the Vikings New Depth Chart
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Josh Frey

For WR2, I think we’ll go into the season with K.J. Osborn carrying that title.┬áDepending on how the board falls, the Vikings may go WR early in the draft, but the main focus in FA/Draft should be the defense.

t7. K.J. Osborn

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction Maker = Ali Siddiqui

Adam Thielen should be back on a new deal and will be the WR3. The Vikings will sign a WR, but Osborn could very likely be the second option in 2023.

In 2024, it could possibly be the rookie they draft this year.

t7. K.J. Osborn

4 Vikings Deserve Game Balls after Historic Comeback
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Kyle Joudry

K.J. Osborn is going to be the Vikings’ WR2 in 2023.

The [soon-to-be] fourth-year WR was the catalyst for the Colts comeback. In that game, he proved that he could not only be a meaningful offensive contributor (something he has already shown) but that he’s also one of the team’s leaders. He offered a great compete gene at a time when it appeared the competition was done.

Before it’s all said and done, I expect to see a “C” on Osborn’s chest. Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson are going to be the main two targets next season, so Osborn’s role will involve being a steady WR2/#3 pass catcher who has the capacity to explode.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.