Vikings Quietly Re-Add Upside Wide Receiver, Special Teams Ace
Last week, the news emerged that the Minnesota Vikings were moving on from WR Malik Knowles.
A flurry of activity preceded the full beginning of training camp. Minnesota brought players aboard while moving others to injury lists. Knowles was part of the roster kerfuffle, being waived with a “non-football injury” designation. Well, the team evidently didn’t want to outright lose him. The Vikings quietly re-added the UDFA.
Per Aaron Wilson of KPRC2, the Vikings “moved Malik Knowles to reserve-non-football injury list after waived-injured.” The next day, Sam Ekstrom from Bally Sports confirmed that “Malik Knowles is present as well after clearing waivers and getting converted to IR.”
The Vikings Quietly Re-Added Malik Knowles
The appeal with Knowles is obvious.
Standing at 6’3″ and weighing 200 pounds, Knowles has a great build for an NFL receiver. During his most recent college season, the receiver put together 48 catches, 725 yards, and a pair of TDs. He also had 8 rushing attempts go for 164 yards — good for a whopping 20.5 yards-per-carry average. Making the rushing numbers even more impressive is that he scored 3 times on the ground.
Oh, and one more thing: he was a weapon on special teams, as well. Last season, Knowles had 23 kick returns go for 592 yards (25.7 yard average). Even more impressive are his numbers from 2021. During that season, the receiver had 20 returns go for 662 yards (33.1 yard average) and a pair of touchdowns.
The competition among Minnesota’s receivers is intense, so anyone making it as the WR5 or WR6 will need to do so by showing they can also help on special teams.
Per The Vikings Wire, Malik Knowles is going to need to wait awhile before being able to see action: “Being placed on the reserve/non-football-injury list means that Knowles cannot practice until after week six and can return to the field in week seven.”
Stepping back to assess the position as a whole points to a crowded competition. Justin Jefferson, of course, stands out as the clear-cut WR1. He’s Minnesota’s best player and is likely to continue smashing records as his career proceeds.
Meanwhile, K.J. Osborn and Jordan Addison are in a battle to be the Robin to Jefferson’s Batman. For a long time, I advocated for Osborn to be the team’s WR2. He demonstrates tremendous compete and hustle, making him an appealing option for any offense. However, the Vikings are really high on Addison, so the safer bet appears to be that the rookie will emerge before too long.
Jalen Nailor finished last season strong and has been impressing during the early days of training camp. Per The Athletic‘s Alec Lewis, Nailor “looks goooooood.” Nicknamed Speedy, Nailor is leading the competition for the WR4 spot.
Other names to remember include Jalen Reagor, Thayer Thomas, Blake Proehl, and Trishton Jackson.
Before training camp got going, I made a “bold prediction” for a piece on Vikings Territory. My claim was that a relatively overlooked option at receiver would get serious consideration for the WR5 job. My specific example was Malik Knowles. The injury certainly undermines that possibility, but the overarching thought is one I’ll stand behind.
A depth receiver can break into the roster if he impresses both Wes Phillips and Matt Daniels. Having the endorsement from a pair of coordinators is the key. In time, perhaps, Knowles can become that player. Getting healthy as he continues to learn about life in the NFL are the present-day goals as he pursues a professional football career.
In the meantime, keep an eye on the other depth receivers for the final opening on Minnesota’s 53-man roster.
Editor’s Note: Information from Stat Reference CFB helped with this piece.