Vikings Urged to Add Massive WR as Adam Thielen Replacement

Justin Jefferson, Vikings

Getty Wide receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after a penalty against the New York Giants in the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game in January 2023.

The Minnesota Vikings have a big hole on the roster and need to acquire a sizable wide receiver to fill it.

With free agency options thin from the start, the Vikings could look to address the position group as early as the first round of next week’s NFL Draft. The 2023 class isn’t particularly stocked with talent at wideout, though there are a handful of high-quality prospects from which to choose. Among them is Quentin Johnston of TCU.

Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report on Saturday, April 22, listed Minnesota among the top landing spots for the 6-foot, 3-inch and 208-pound receiver.

“The Vikings might not view wide receiver as a high priority in the draft. But Adam Thielen is gone, and K.J. Osborn hasn’t yet shown he can be an every-week contributor,” Davenport wrote. “Playing opposite Justin Jefferson would allow Johnston to face single coverage for most of his rookie year.”

Quentin Johnston Among Handful of WRs Vikings Can Target in NFL Draft

New England Patriots

GettyWide receiver Quentin Johnston of the TCU Horned Frogs warms up before the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against the Georgia Bulldogs in January 2023.

Johnston is very much on Minnesota’s radar, as the organization hosted the wideout for a top-30 visit less than two weeks ago.

Johnston’s size and athleticism make him an attractive prospect but questions remain about his hands, specifically their surety. During his junior season in 2022, Johnston posted a drop rate of 11.8 percent. He still caught 60 passes for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns, per Football Reference, while helping lead his team to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Johnston has generally been discussed as a solid first-round prospect, though some other names have gotten hotter as the offseason has worn on. Among those players are Jaxon Smith-Njigba of Ohio State, Jordan Addison of USC and Zay Flowers of Boston College.

Vikings May Draft Competition for K.J. Osborn in WR Room

K.J. Osborn, Vikings

GettyWide receiver K.J. Osborn of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates after an overtime win against the Carolina Panthers in October 2021.

If the Vikings like Osborn to elevate into Thielen’s former role as the team’s No. 2 option at wideout, Smith-Njigba would make a good deal of sense to bring in as a potentially elite slot receiver in his rookie campaign.

Osborn told ESPN’s Kevin Seifert earlier this week that he sees the roster opening in his position group as his chance to move into a permanent starting role and that he’s ready for the challenge of lining up opposite Jefferson with regularity in 2023.

“I do, if I’m being completely honest with you” Osborn said. “I know it’s an opportunity. I know there’s stuff ahead. We could still bring guys on and things like that, but at least I can say I’m excited about the opportunity.”

As Davenport noted, Minnesota may not look at a wide receiver in the first round considering the other needs on the roster. The Vikings must to add more help to the secondary and could look to a cornerback with the 23rd overall pick next Thursday. The franchise may also try to trade up and draft a quarterback like Will Levis, or stay put and see if QB Hendon Hooker falls into the late stages of the first round.

If either of those scenarios plays out, Osborn will become an overwhelming favorite to assume Thielen’s former role. If not, he is likely to have some competition from Johnston or another prospect the Vikings like at No. 23.

Read More