Vikings Fans Don’t Expect Rookie to Start Right Away

Oct 10, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; A general view of a Minnesota Vikings fans. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

It took Justin Jefferson about 2.5 games to get rolling as a rookie in 2020, and Minnesota Vikings fans evidently expect the same — or more — from newcomer Jordan Addison.

The Vikings spent the 23rd overall pick in April’s draft on Addison, a workhorse-type wide receiver from USC.

Vikings Fans Don’t Expect Rookie to Start Right Away

But Addison recently missed some of the club’s organized team activities in May and June and all two days of mandatory minicamp due to a minor injury. Head coach Kevin O’Connell noted on Addison’s non-involvement, “We’ve had a plan in place for him and continuing to kind of build up to where he’ll be. He’ll be spending quite a bit of time continuing in his playbook. He’s been phenomenal in meetings and out here, asking great questions when they come up. My expectation is that Jordan will be full when we get going in late July.”

Rookie to Start Right
Rookie minicamp highlights from Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison’s first practice as a Viking after being selected in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Addison played at the University of Pittsburgh and USC in college.

And whether it’s a throwback to Jefferson’s slightly delayed ascension three years ago, Addison’s exclusions from OTAs and minicamp, or both — Vikings fans predict a lagged emergence for Addison to WR2.

We polled fans on Twitter last week, and a whopping 69% believe K.J. Osborn, not Addison, will begin the 2023 regular season as Minnesota’s WR2.

The poll was unscientific, and 643 folks responded.

K.J. Osborn Does It Again
Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) catches a touchdown pass against the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Osborn snagged WR3 duties behind Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen during the summer of 2021 and never relinquished the assignment, and after Thielen left for the Carolina Panthers in March, many believed Osborn was the next man up for Thielen’s job.

The selection of Addison in the draft, however, put a damper on Osborn’s plan, at least for the long term.

Easy with Jordan Addison
Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison poses for a photo on the NFL Draft Red Carpet before the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

It would be really, really odd for the Vikings to utilize 1st-Round draft capital on Addison while planning to employ Osborn as the WR2 indefinitely. In fact, if that shakes down, it will have meant that Addison was a draft ‘bust’ or something close to it.

Osborn recently said about his trajectory on the Vikings depth chart, “This has been my career. It’s been my path. Wait my turn. Grind it out. But I think that gives me a sense of appreciation.”

Furthermore, 2023 is a contract year for Osborn, meaning he’s auditioning to remain a Viking beyond this season — or aiming for a fat contract elsewhere next March. Wide receivers are increasingly breaking the bank in free agency, and if Osborn pulls off another productive season in 2023, he could reasonably fetch north of $15 million per season from the highest free-agent bidder in less than nine months.

All National Power Rankings
Aug 27, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

And don’t look now, but Vikings fans believe Osborn has that oomph in his skillset. Otherwise, the results from the poll would be flipped, with 69% favoring Addison to start in September, not Osborn.

That is not the case, though, and Vikings faithful don’t think Osborn will immediately hand the keys to Osborn. It’s a good problem to have.


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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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

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