Over the past few weeks, Zone Coverage has broken down the Minnesota Vikings post-draft roster by position group and taken a stab at which players will make the team.
Today’s focus: Wide receivers
The Vikings continue to feature one of the best receiving tandems in football with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, but there are questions beyond that. Is this the last chance for a former first-round pick? Did the Vikings make a good Wright-for-Wright exchange? And which youngsters can fill the remaining spots? Let’s take a look.
Departures: Michael Floyd, Rodney Adams, Jarius Wright
Additions: Kendall Wright, Jeff Badet, Chad Beebe, Tavarres King, Korey Robertson, Jake Weineke, Brandon Zylstra
Returning: Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell, Stacy Coley, Cayleb Jones
THE STARS: Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen
These two both finished in Pro Football Focus’s top 10 last season — the only duo from the same team to accomplish that feat. While Diggs may possess slightly higher-end skill than Thielen, nagging injuries have slowed him enough that Thielen has led the team in receiving yards each of the last two seasons, including a monumental 1,276 yards a year ago.
Thielen is in the second year of a four-year extension he signed before last year, and the Vikings are reportedly working on a contract extension with Diggs to keep the pair together. That would be wise, considering that quarterback Kirk Cousins may now be equipped with the best offensive weaponry in his career.
THE NEW #17: Kendall Wright
The Vikings imported Kendall Wright from Chicago after jettisoning Jarius Wright in a cost-cutting measure. Kendall Wright led the league in catch rate out of the slot last season, is only 28 years old and agreed to play for $1 million. This could be a steal of a deal. Like Jarius Wright, Kendall Wright needs only to be a reliable option when called upon, particularly on third downs.
THE FORMER FIRST-ROUNDER: Laquon Treadwell
It’s tough to know what to expect from Treadwell at this point. His first two seasons have been a disappointment, and he was called out by head coach Mike Zimmer at the combine. “Laquon needs to get out of his own way,” Zimmer said. His 20 catches last year were an improvement off his one-catch rookie season, but no touchdowns through two seasons is a glaring statistic. Quarterbacks had just a 52.6 rating when throwing Treadwell’s way last season — that ranked 176th in the NFL.
To have any shot of getting his fifth-year option picked up next May, Treadwell will need to take massive strides in 2018 — assuming he is not a surprise cut.
THE YOUNG RETURNERS: Stacy Coley, Cayleb Jones
The Vikings seem to like last year’s seventh-round pick Coley, even though he didn’t make a catch last season. We’ll have to monitor his health, though, after Coley limped off the field at the May 23 OTA with a right leg injury.
Jones was another promising receiver who excelled last training camp and preseason, but he was recently-suspended four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. That could ultimately cost him a job.
THE UDFAs: Korey Robertson, Jake Wieneke, Jeff Badet
The Vikings didn’t draft a receiver but went out and signed four undrafted free agent receivers in the immediate aftermath. One of them — Armanti Foreman — has already been released, but the other three should all believe they have a shot at making the roster as a possible fifth or sixth wideout.
Korey Robertson is a physical target who put up huge numbers his junior year at Southern Mississippi, Jake Wieneke was a tall, four-year star at South Dakota State, and Jeff Badet was a speedy, diminutive pass-catching threat at Kentucky and Oklahoma. Each brings something different to the table.
THE OTHERS: Chad Beebe, Tavarres King, Brandon Zylstra
The Vikings took a flyer on Beebe after a nice rookie mini-camp, but he will have to be tremendously impressive to hang around at just 5-foot-9. King was signed from the New York Giants after putting up 240 yards last season as part of their depleted receiving corps, but at age 27, the Vikings may not keep him around when there are younger, higher-ceiling options to develop. Zylstra was a former CFL standout in Edmonton, but CFL convert receivers have rarely worked out for the Vikings.
The odds are stacked against these three.
Making the roster: Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kendall Wright, Laquon Treadwell, Stacy Coley, Korey Robertson
Released: Chad Beebe, Jake Wieneke, Jeff Badet, Tavarres King, Brandon Zylstra
Suspended: Cayleb Jones