Former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajaé Sharpe’s signing to the Minnesota Vikings was a relatively quiet move given the mounting anticipation surrounding the 2020 NFL Draft and its wide receiver class.
Sharpe, a fifth-year wideout, progressed throughout his time in Tennessee, but was buried beneath many offensive weapons and never rose to the challenge. The Vikings present a new opportunity for Sharpe to make a name for himself, and Bleacher Report believes he could become a viable option the offense, naming him the Vikings’ biggest sleeper heading into training camp.
Here’s what Bleacher Report writer Brad Gagnon had to say about Sharpe’s prospects in Minnesota:
Unlike the Tennessee Titans, we’re not ready to give up on Tajae Sharpe.
The four-year veteran is expected to at least grab the No. 3 receiver job as a new member of the Minnesota Vikings with rookie first-round pick Justin Jefferson expected by most to essentially replace the departed Stefon Diggs. But you never know what to expect from a rookie wide receiver, and Sharpe has the ability to deliver as a starter without being the focal point of the balanced offense.
He’s never caught 50 passes or scored five touchdowns in a season, but Sharpe is still only 25 and is coming off a quietly strong season. His cumulative numbers weren’t big because the Titans have a slew of options on offense, but the UMass product averaged a stellar 9.4 yards per target. He caught more than 71 percent of the passes thrown his way and dropped zero of those 35 throws from Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Sharpe took off in a new setting.
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Coming Off His Best Year As a Pro
Sharpe, a fifth-round pick in 2016, put up the most receiving yards in his career in his rookie season and showed positive development over the past two seasons and is coming off his best year as a pro in 2019.
Sharpe caught 41 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns on 83 his rookie season. He suffered a foot injury that held him out of the entire 2017 season, and soon after he saw his involvement in the offense continued to diminish. The additions of Corey Davis and Adam Humphries placed Sharpe fifth in the pecking order among wideouts in 2019, but he did make the most of his targets.
Sharpe caught 25 passes for 329 yards on 35 targets and didn’t drop a pass last season — he also dropped just one pass on 47 targets in 2018. He scored four touchdowns, the most in his career, along with a career-high 71.4 percent catch rate and 13.2 yards per reception. He scored twice against the New Orleans Saints.
Sharpe’s Potential With Vikings
Sharpe should have no troubles getting acclimated with Kirk Cousins, as he dealt with a revolving door at quarterback in Tennessee for most of his career.
While Sharpe lacks some of the physical traits needed to be a team’s primary wide receiver, he does have many intangibles that could make him a viable option in the passing game.
Here’s a portion of The Athletic’s Arif Hasan’s breakdown of Sharpe’s strengths:
He’s smart and detailed. Develops chemistry with quarterbacks consistently and quickly, largely because he picks up on offensive principles and new offenses quickly. His detailed approach extends to route-running. Sharp routes, very often on time and run with precision. Has good ball skills, does a great job extending for the ball and catching outside of his frame without trapping against his body. He can extend his catch radius this way. Good body control, especially at the catch point. Sharpe is generally good at finding holes in zone coverage and has an instinct for space — fantastic scramble drill asset. Great at finding ways to create exclusive access to the ball, often shielding the reception with his shoulder. Good foot fakes in route and off the line of scrimmage. Consistency in routes makes it difficult for defensive backs to diagnose the concept he’s running.
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.