Vikings Could Target Small School Gem after Draft

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The Minnesota Vikings have oodles of wide receivers under contract, some three days before the 2024 NFL Draft, but the club doesn’t employ a clear-cut WR3.

Vikings Could Target Small School Gem after Draft

The guy who previously held the job, K.J. Osborn, skipped town for the New England Patriots last month, and he took care of WR3 duties from 2021 to 2023. If Minnesota doesn’t find a prospect in the draft or sign a free agent like Tyler Boyd or Hunter Renfrow, men like Brandon Powell, Trent Sherfield, and Jalen Nailor would be on tap for a WR3 battle this summer.

Mercer’s wide receiver Ty James (13) gets tackled by an SDSU player on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, at Dana J Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings. © Samantha Laurey / Argus Leader / USA TODAY NETWORK.

But the purple team could have eyes on a UDFA type — a wide receiver named Ty James from Mercer. KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweeted on Sunday, “Mercer wide receiver Ty James drawing interest and calls from Bears, Vikings, and Chiefs.”

Mercer is a small school, and accordingly, James hasn’t received much pre-draft attention, though he was ultra-productive in college. He tabulated 2,235 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns in the last two seasons, a wildly impressive statline for anybody.

Alabama linebacker Drew Sanders (20) and Alabama defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry (1) combine to tackle Mercer wide receiver Ty James (13) Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Bryant-Denny Stadium. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.] © Gary Cosby via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

NFL Draft Diamonds’ Jimmy Williams recently described James’ scouting report: “A muscular WR who utilizes mental processing, physicality, and body control to win as a route-runner, and will add on good yards after the catch. His lack of athleticism and speed limit his potential at the next level, and he needs to be more physical when catching the ball.”

Last year, Minnesota captured off-ball linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. from undrafted free agency, a steal of a deal that fell off the draftboard for no good reason. James isn’t quite like Pace, where folks believe he’ll be chosen during the event, but he could morph into an undrafted darling wherever he lands.

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Pro Football Network‘s James Fragoza mentioned James’ weaknesses last weekend in a scouting report: “Won’t take the top off a defense. Too many passes get into his body — must catch with his hands extended from his frame to limit drops and keep DBs away from the ball. Change of direction is average at best and shows up on hard-breaking routes.”

James is 6’2″ and 200 pounds, so he has fairly standard size for an NFL wide receiver. Moreover, his status as a probable undrafted free agency makes him next to free for general managers.

Auburn Tigers defensive back Nehemiah Pritchett (18) breaks up a pass intended for Mercer Bears wide receiver Ty James (13) as Auburn Tigers take on Mercer Bears at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. Auburn Tigers leads Mercer Bears 28-7 at halftime. © Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Outside of WR3, the Vikings’ draft needs include quarterback, interior defensive line, interior offensive line, and perhaps cornerback.

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).

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