The Vikings’ Plan for WR3

Giants DC Has Hilarious Comp for Kevin O'Connell
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The 2024 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, and teams will now look forward to training camp and preseason while putting the final touches on their 53-man roster. For the Minnesota Vikings, a few areas still have question marks and could stand for some improvement — most notably, defensive tackle, left guard, and WR3. Today, I want to look at the latter and examine the Vikings’ plan for WR3.

The Vikings’ Plan For WR3

The Vikings have an array of offensive talent. Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, TJ Hockenson, and newly arrived Aaron Jones are an embarrassment of riches. This is why so many draft analysts have pinpointed Minnesota as the perfect landing spot for a rookie quarterback. JJ McCarthy was visibly delighted at being drafted by the Vikings and stated it was where every QB he spoke with wanted to go. 

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After four seasons in Minnesota — three as the Vikings WR3 — KJ Osborn left and joined the New England Patriots. This left a hole on the Vikings roster that hasn’t been addressed suitably. Brandon Powell was re-signed and should continue in his role as WR4/punt returner. Trent Sherfield was brought in and can add experience and blocking ability as a WR5, and then there are a host of depth players on the roster.

There is no standout WR3, which Kevin O’Connell’s offense needs. Last season, Osborn had a disappointing season but still amassed 540 receiving yards and three touchdowns. That is a decent chunk of offense that needs replacing, and that is before we get into the possibility of injuries — something we saw plenty of last season.

The Importance of the WR3

Coach O’Connell runs a pass-heavy offense. There has been plenty of talk over the two seasons he’s been in charge of balancing the offense with more from the run game. However, O’Connell will lean on his QB and star receivers when push comes to shove to get the job done. Some offenses can get away with the WR3 being just a guy who makes the odd play, but the Vikings need more than that.

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O’Connell likes to move his receivers around the formation, and a big part of that working efficiently is all the receivers being perceived as an equal threat. To a point, Jefferson will always be the biggest threat. For this reason, I’m not buying that the Vikings are happy to go into the season with what they have. 

Thus far, the Vikings haven’t signed anyone to fulfill the WR3 role and didn’t address the position in the draft. Although, if Mike Florio is to be believed, Minnesota was interested in trading up to pick 5 for Malik Nabers. The only feasible way is if the Vikings thought they could make that move and still land a QB— they couldn’t. QB was the big priority of this draft, but any polite inquiry that may have been made with Nabers in mind shows O’Connell’s idea for the third receiver. It is not just some guy to make the numbers up.

The Options For 2024

I do not believe the Vikings will find their long-term answer for WR3 at this point in the proceedings. It is one of the positions I expect to be high on the agenda next year. For now, the Vikings need to find a short-term answer, and the good news is that there are still plenty of options.

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Tyler Boyd, DJ Chark, Allen Robinson, Odell Beckham Jr., and Chase Claypool are still on the market. There have been reports that the Vikings and Boyd have mutual interest, and Boyd was my favorite option among the remaining FAs.

Boyd brings size, good blocking, and comfort to the role of the main slot receiver. He is a good fit for what the Vikings need right now and is a deal I’m not surprised the Vikings would pursue. Chark is the other guy I think would be a good signing, while I don’t think the others should be of interest. I expect the Vikings to make a signing, and I believe Boyd will be the standout option that can help the Vikings be competitive in 2024.