Vikings Meet With Productive UCF Playmaker

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The quarterback position is obviously at the top of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s wishlist for the upcoming draft. Since the starter, Kirk Cousins, departed six seasons after becoming Minnesota’s captain, the general manager must find a successor. Besides that crucial spot, other unsung openings must be filled, too. One is the void K.J. Osborn left when he exited the building in free agency.

Vikings Meet With Productive UCF Playmaker

Vikings Meet With Productive UCF Playmaker
UCF’s Javon Baker (1) scores a touchdown in front of Oklahoma’s Billy Bowman Jr. (2) and Jaren Kanak (7) in the fourth quarter of the college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the University of Central Florida Knights at Gaylord Family Oklahoma-Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct., 21, 2023.

Because Osborn left, the Vikings lack explosive depth behind the top duo of Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison. Brandon Powell was re-signed, and Jalen Nailor returned for a third season. Free agent Trent Sherfield was also added to the mix, and some 2023 practice squad players remain. It feels like one piece is missing in the receiver puzzle.

The draft, however, is a great way to acquire that piece. Because the two first-rounders will either be spent on a quarterback or the defense, and the Vikings don’t possess a selection in rounds two and three, rounds four through seven should be used to add one more wideout. In a phenomenal class for receivers, someone should be available who can help the offense.

UCF’s Javon Baker (1) runs for a touchdown after a reception as Oklahoma’s Woodi Washington (5) chases him in the first half of the college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the University of Central Florida Knights at Gaylord Family Oklahoma-Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct., 21, 2023.

According to KPRC 2’s Aaron Wilson on X, the Vikings have scheduled a meeting with WR Javon Baker.

The consensus draft board from ranks him 95th, not that far off from Minnesota’s 108th pick. Because those rankings are never accurate, the draft is obviously not an exact science; he could be available when the Vikings are on the clock in the fourth round. Of course, packaging day three picks to slide into the third round is also a possibility.

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Baker recently celebrated his 22nd birthday in February. During the scouting combine, he showcased solid measurables. His height was recorded at 6’1″, and his weight was 202 lbs. Baker ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds. While none of his measurables are considered elite, they are all above average.

The receiver started his collegiate career at Alabama but didn’t log the desired playing time (he only caught nine passes for 117 yards and one touchdown in two campaigns), so he transferred to UCF following his second season.

At UCF, he recorded 108 catches for almost 2,000 yards and 12 scores. Just last season, Baker tabulated 1,139 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games.

Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports’s Lance Zierlein evaluated the prospect:

Former Alabama signee with good size and skill level who finally saw his production spike once he transferred to UCF. Baker looks the part, and his tape will keep growing on you the longer it runs. His play was very natural and instinctive in 2023; he made quality plays on the ball in game after game. He uses speed changes and route leverage to create separation, and he’s at his best working the second and third levels from either inside or outside. The ball skills are NFL-caliber, but the hands will lose focus at times. Baker has the traits and skill level of an NFL receiver and should fight for an eventual shot as a WR3/4.

Lance Zierlein
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Baker requires some refinement and must improve the necessary fundamentals to complement his solid physical traits, but he has the potential to play a role in Minnesota’s offense right away. With Jefferson and Addison surely demanding a ton of attention from opposing defenses, T.J. Hockenson is another receiving threat; once he is healthy, Baker could take advantage of some favorable matchups.

The mid-round prospect could be worth a shot.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt