Vikings Beef Up Receiver Depth, Add a New Pass Catcher for O’Connell’s Offense

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Folks, you can’t teach 6’2″. Either you have it or you don’t. Nothing a coach — even the most brilliant — can do to get that kind of size out of a pass catcher.

When looking for reasons why Minnesota made a move at receiver, begin with the new receiver’s size. Standing at 6’2″ and weighing 219 pounds, Daylen Baldwin looks like a bruiser. The Vikings’ official social media sent out the word that he has been added to the practice squad. The move arrives just as Minnesota also brought Trishton Jackson back into the fold, bringing him to the practice squad, as well.

Vikings Beef Up Receiver Depth

N’Keal Harry is on the Vikings’ roster largely due to his size.

Recently, Kevin O’Connell has been getting him onto the field to help with blocking responsibilities. Go ahead and re-watch Ty Chandler’s beautiful touchdown against the Saints. Harry, who tips the scales at 6’4″, 225, gets tasked with taking on the edge defender. The receiver is up to the task, helping to clear a running lane for Chandler to explode through for a touchdown.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) celebrates his touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Baldwin’s size jumps out immediately, but he brings other things to the table that will intrigue Minnesota.

At 23 (he’ll turn 24 tomorrow), the receiver finds himself at an age that will be appealing to the competitively rebuilding Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Before venturing to Minnesota, Baldwin spent some time with the Browns. He was originally brought into the NFL as an UDFA, signing a 3-year, $2,560,000 deal in 2022 that eventually resulted in mostly residing on the practice squad last season (his original deal would be terminated and replaced with a practice squad deal).

Of course, being employed in Cleveland will spark some intrigue for Adofo-Mensah. Before becoming Minnesota’s GM, Adofo-Mensah was employed in Cleveland’s front office. Safe to say there will be some overlap in what each team is looking for in their players.

NFL: Combine
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo Mensah speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Before getting to the NFL, Daylen Baldwin played football for Michigan (a program that’s been in the headlines recently). He picked up 17 receptions for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2021. So, not extravagant numbers but some reason to perk up. The 15.1 yards-per-reception average is intriguing, especially when partnered with his size.

He didn’t see too many opportunities during his rookie season, but he was active for a game. In a 13-3 win over the Ravens in Week 14, Baldwin turned 2 targets into 2 catches for 25 yards. Both of those receptions ended up going for a first down.

Nov 12, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates with quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings’ receiver group has experienced no shortage of turmoil during the current season. Everyone will think of Justin Jefferson since he’s the team’s WR1 and undisputed best player. Don’t forget, though, that Jalen Nailor also had to nurse an injury for several weeks and K.J. Osborn missed some time, as well.

The result has been a greater reliance on Jordan Addison and Brandon Powell (alongside the aforementioned Harry and Jackson). And, of course, there has been the emphasis on getting the tight ends involved a bit more in the passing game. Both Josh Oliver and T.J. Hockenson have developed some good chemistry with Josh Dobbs.

Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Apart from Jefferson, Minnesota’s receiver group is back to full health. O’Connell described Jefferson as questionable for the upcoming game. Not activating him off of the IR comes with the benefit of being able to let #18 take the full bye week to ensure he’s at 100% health.

Daylen Baldwin faces an uphill battle for playing time, but he has a shot at being part of what O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah are doing in Minnesota. In all likelihood, the best thing Baldwin can do to get onto the active roster is to prove he can be a monster as a blocker and to show that he can thrive on special teams.

The Vikings’ next test will arrive on Monday Night Football when the division-rival Bears come to town. A victory would push Minnesota up to 7-5 for the season and 3-0 within the NFC North.

Kickoff takes place at 7:15 CST.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, Sports Reference CFB, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.