Vikings

Minnesota’s Level of Interest In Jordan Addison Will Signal Their Offensive Strategy

Photo Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is just two weeks away, meaning that mock draft season is in full swing. Lately, Jordan Addison has become a favorite of analysts to go to the Minnesota Vikings. Popular networks such as PFF, CBS, and Sports Illustrated have all released mock drafts in which the Vikings take Addison at pick No. 23 to bolster the passing attack after releasing Adam Thielen.

These projections make even more sense when considering that Addison will be visiting with the Vikings pre-draft, showing at least some mutual interest between the two parties.

Allow me to take you back to the trade deadline last season. Minnesota’s offense was too heavily reliant on Justin Jefferson, and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made a surprise move to acquire T.J. Hockenson. Hockenson was invaluable. The Vikings added another star pass catcher to the offense and forced defenses to take some of their attention away from Jefferson. Ultimately, Hockenson and Jefferson thrived together during that 10-game stretch.

However, Minnesota’s passing offense had yet to reach its full potential. Thielen and K.J. Osborn and other receivers could not separate against man coverage. In the season’s final game, that allowed the New York Giants to double Jefferson and bring pressure, leading to one of Jefferson’s worst games of the year.

Luckily for the Vikings, Addison may be the antidote to this issue.

In the two plays above, Addison’s route-running abilities are on glorious display. In the first clip, he is matched up against another draft prospect, Kyu Blu-Kelley. However, Addison makes him look like a fool with his elite ability to manipulate and attack the defensive backs’ leverage, then sheds a tackle and scores.

Addison forces the DB into a guessing game in the next clip. He sells the corner route with his hips and his eyes before accelerating past and picking up massive yards for his offense.

That’s the type of route-running the Vikings were missing at the WR2 spot last season. Thielen had the ability to manipulate DBs, but his speed out of breaks had declined, and he was ultimately unable to separate. Osborn had the speed to take the top off, but the route-running savvy is still not there and likely never will be.

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler described Addison as a “loose athlete with crafty routes and vertical speed to work all three levels.” Adding a receiver of Addison’s caliber would instantaneously open a new dimension to Minnesota’s offense. However, it may also close an element of it.

Addison could be a better prospect, of course. There are reasons he may fall to pick 23. His weakness is his ability to block in the run game. At 5’11”, 170 lbs., Addison’s frame is a legitimate concern for evaluators. His slim build makes him susceptible to being pushed around by defensive backs, making him a liability when running the football.

Because of this, selecting Addison with the 23rd pick would indicate a contrast to the direction Minnesota’s offense was leaning when Kwesi Adofo-Mensah added Josh Oliver and brought C.J. Ham back this offseason. These players specialize in their ability to run block and could be signifying that the Vikings are moving towards a more balanced offense.

Furthermore, adding Oliver means that the Vikings are now equipped with all the necessary weapons to run 12 personnel — a formation with two tight ends, one running back, and two wide receivers. Twelve personnel allows the offense to attack the defense via the air and ground effectively. The formation does not give away tendencies like an empty set or 22 personnel might and almost forces defenses into guessing.

Addison creates an issue because this formation typically asks its wide receivers to block effectively on the run plays. It’s a role that Osborn would fill better, considering he is 30 lbs. heavier than Addison. For what it’s worth, Addison says that his size won’t be a problem when taking that step to the next level. “A lot of guys who are my size are succeeding,” he said, mentioning Devonta Smith.

Despite all this, the idea of drafting Addison still intrigues me. After all, he is a consensus top-three WR prospect in this draft. Furthermore, putting him alongside a superstar like Jefferson and a tight end like Hockenson would open up many avenues for Kevin O’Connell to take this offense. However, if the Vikings still intend to become a more balanced offense that runs the ball effectively, as they have shown they want to be this offseason, adding Addison would be surprising.

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