“Top Concern” Is Predictable for Vikings

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings’ regular season gets underway in 69 days, but before that, training camp and the preseason will occur this month and in August.

“Top Concern” Is Predictable for Vikings

The club is on deck for about seven wins, per sportsbooks, a similar win total forecast that followed the team into 2023 before the Vikings ultimately won — you guessed it — seven games.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports.

And according to The Athletic, an outfit that labeled the top concern for each NFL team last week, Minnesota’s WR3 situation should raise eyebrows.

The Vikings added one veteran wideout from free agency, Brandon Powell, a journeyman WR4-type who may get an audition at WR3, depending on his performance in the next seven weeks. Otherwise, punt returner Brandon Powell is probably the frontrunner for WR3, along with Jalen Nailor, a speedster entering Year No. 3 as a pro.

vikings free agency
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Athletic’s Alec Lewis tabbed WR3 as the main concern for Minnesota and opined, “Is it Brandon Powell? Can Jalen Nailor stay healthy enough to play the role? If it’s not those two guys, then who? This roster hole surfaced once K.J. Osborn signed with the Patriots in free agency. The Vikings staff loves Powell, which is understandable. He is reliable, tough and shifty. But he is also a 5-foot-8, 181-pounder and the team’s punt and kick returner. If he’s WR3, who will return kicks?”

For context, these are the Vikings’ wide receivers in July:

  • Justin Jefferson
  • Jordan Addison
  • Brandon Powell
  • Trent Sherfield
  • Jalen Nailor
  • Trishton Jackson
  • Lucky Jackson
  • Thayer Thomas
  • Malik Knowles
  • Ty James
  • Jeshaun Jones

Lewis added, “Trent Sherfield is another option, but he didn’t blow the staff away in OTAs. There are some free agent options like Hunter Renfrow, but Renfrow isn’t much of a blocker. Does coach Kevin O’Connell want a receiver who can help in the run game? If so, that might be hard to find at this point.”

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota is indeed down to nubbins for free-agent options. The aforementioned Renfrow, Michael Thomas, and Julio Jones headline the diminished crop. Truth be told, if general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah wanted a different WR3, he would’ve signed one by now.

However, fans should keep an eye on late August as a contingency plan for WR3. After roster cutdown day, receivers like these could be available on the open market:

  • K.J. Hamler
  • Mecole Hardman
  • Isaiah Hodgins
  • Isaiah McKenzie
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • Kadarius Toney
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling
  • Robert Woods
Top Concern
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Otherwise, if no men are added from the NFL’s marketplace and Minnesota fires off no trades involving a wide receiver, Powell and Nailor are likely vying for the official spot.

Minnesota could also fire up a WR3 by committee until T.J. Hockenson returns from an ACL tear. He’s the WR3 per target load.

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.