During the early part of the 2010s, the Minnesota Vikings were fixated on finding a weapon at wide receiver for their rebuilding offense. As Christian Ponder and then Teddy Bridgewater took their place under center, the Vikings tried high-priced free agency (Greg Jennings) and trading for a disgruntled receiver (Mike Wallace) to give their quarterback a reliable target to throw to.
The Vikings finally turned their attention to the draft in 2016, using a first-round pick to select Laquon Treadwell, but their best weapons turned out to be buried at the bottom of the depth chart. With Adam Thielen coming to the Vikings as a UDFA in 2013 and Stefon Diggs as a fifth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Minnesota wound up stumbling into their top playmakers, which made the Vikings a formidable offense.
As Minnesota enters a new decade, they once again are looking for weapons to lead their passing attack. Thielen is entering his 30s, and although the Vikings selected Justin Jefferson in the first round of this year’s draft, they’ll still need someone to step up as a third option at wide receiver.
One name that Vikings fans should file away is Quartney Davis. Although he didn’t do much to excite anyone during his time at Texas A&M, Davis has some interesting qualities that could make him the Vikings’ next unheralded gem at wide receiver.
A big strength when it comes to Davis’ game is his size. Playing 75% of his snaps in the slot, his 6’1″, 201-pound frame was a disadvantage for opposing defensive backs. Although he struggled to get off press coverage, he didn’t see too much of it in the slot and used his speed to his advantage. Davis’ time in the 40-yard dash (4.54 seconds) wasn’t enough to raise eyebrows, but his 10-yard split of 1.53 seconds was in the 90th percentile among wide receivers in this class, per Pro Football Focus.
With his quick-twitch speed, Davis was able to get free releases and get upfield in a hurry. For an offense that loves to throw deep when defenses come up to try to stop Dalvin Cook, Davis could fit right in, providing an option that could take the top off and make catches in the middle of the field.
The question that should be asked is if Davis has the speed to play at this level and had modest production, why did he go undrafted? That’s because many felt he should have done more with his frame.
Davis wasn’t an elite deep target for the Aggies with just six of his 99 catches coming 20 yards or more downfield. In addition, Davis also didn’t have the strength to go up against collegiate cornerbacks, which also screams that he’ll have issues against the bigger, stronger and faster opponents he’ll see in the NFL.
There are other red flags that prevented Davis from being drafted, such as a knee injury in his freshman season and a 33% contested catch rate. However, the Vikings probably won’t need him to do either of those things with what they already have on offense.
While Thielen and Jefferson have shown they can rack up yards in bunches on the outside, Davis could be an interesting addition in three-wide sets. There’s also a chance that Jefferson and Thielen could switch into the slot, leaving Davis as a decoy on the outside, freeing things up for the Vikings’ passing attack.
With any UDFA, there has to be an opportunity, and there could be an open path to making the roster for Davis. While the Vikings seem set at the top of the depth chart, incumbents Bisi Johnson and Chad Beebe aren’t exactly untouchable, and free-agent addition Tajae Sharpe will have to battle in camp to make the team.
This leaves a manageable challenge for Davis, who could live up to his potential and be an interesting third weapon for the Vikings passing attack.