Vikings Get Surprisingly Low Assessment of Wide Receiver Group

Adam Thielen / Justin Jefferson
Aug 28, 2020; Eagan, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) and wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) talk at practice at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

If you asked most Vikings fans, they’d likely tell you that the purple wide receiver group is among the best in the NFL.

The 22-year-old Justin Jefferson is already a top 5 receiver in the NFL, and his age suggests that he may still be getting better. After him is Adam Thielen, a veteran who has still found a way to be highly effective. If there’s one knock on Thielen, it’s that he has missed more time in recent seasons. It’s a fair concern, and yet there’s little debate about his abilities when he’s out there.

Rounding out the wide receiver room are players K.J. Osborn, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Albert Wilson, Bisi Johnson, and recent Vikings draft pick Jalen Nailor. Apparently, the combination of an elite pair alongside some young depth isn’t enough to put Minnesota in a strong position in the PFF receiver rankings. The analytics site puts Minnesota down at 15th overall:

Justin Jefferson has already comfortably established himself as one of the league’s best wide receivers. He leads all players at the position in PFF receiving grade against press coverage since 2020 and has proven he can win against any type of coverage from both the slot and outside. 

However, the Vikings don’t have a particularly deep group beyond Jefferson. Adam Thielen is turning 32 years old in August and coming off his lowest PFF grade since 2015 in a season limited by an ankle injury. Beyond those two, Minnesota will be leaning on the likes of K.J. Osborn, Albert Wilson, Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Irv Smith Jr.

It’s definitely strange to see teams like Dallas, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Buffalo come in higher than Minnesota. All these teams, of course, have great talent: CeeDee Lamb, Diontae Johnson, Courtland Sutton, and Stefon Diggs (among others). None of their #1 receivers, though, can match Jefferson. Partnering Minnesota’s WR1 with Thielen and Osborn – especially with a healthy Smith Jr. at TE – creates a loaded offense.

The Vikings will get back into the playoffs if their wide receiver group proves to be among the best in the NFL. On a weekly basis, fans are hoping to see this offense create brutal matchups for the opposing defense.

Game 1 takes place on September 11 against a talented Packers defense.

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