Three Wide Receivers Who Could Take the Vikings’ Passing Offense over the Top

Dec 23, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) looks on from the bench against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Pittsburgh won 34-11. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings employ two of the premier wide receivers in the NFL with Jordan Addison and Justin Jefferson.

However, their depth behind those two players has dwindled this offseason, namely through the departure of K.J. Osborn, who signed with the New England Patriots. Had the Vikings been able to retain Kirk Cousins this might not have been as big of a deal.

That is not the reality in front of Minnesota this year, though. Cousins is now an Atlanta Falcon, and the Vikings will be forced to feature a new QB1 in 2024. The two most obvious options for that quarterback are either Sam Darnold or a rookie through the draft.

In either case, it would be wise for the Vikings to fill out their group of pass catchers with as much talent as possible. Here are three players who could be ideal options for Minnesota this spring either through free agency or the draft.

Tyler Boyd (Free Agent)

Wide Receivers
Dec 23, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) reacts during warm ups before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If the Vikings want to target a proven player on the free agency market, Tyler Boyd stands out as the most reliable player left in terms of both production and health. After missing six games during the 2017 season, the veteran receiver has played at least 14 games for the Bengals in each of the past six years.

On top of that reliability, Boyd has been a very productive player. He has put together 600+ receiving yards in every season since 2018, including a pair of 1000-yard campaigns. His production has steadily taken a step back over the past few years, but that largely is due to the presences of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.

As of now, Spotrac projects Boyd’s next contract to be a three-year deal worth $26.1 million. It would be a bit of a pricey contract for a WR3, but the Vikings are going to go into this season with either Sam Darnold or a rookie as their starting quarterback. They likely won’t have T.J. Hockenson for the early portions of the season either. Minnesota needs to surround their new starting QB with as much talent as they possibly can.

Javon Baker (NFL Draft)

Dec 22, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; UCF Knights wide receiver Javon Baker (1) celebrates his touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the first half of the Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

When watching Javon Baker play, he just has the look of an NFL receiver. He doesn’t rely on any single trait to make plays at the position, which should allow his skills to translate to the next level. He has solid NFL size at 6’1″ and 202 pounds and pairs that with 4.5 speed which keeps defenses honest downfield.

Baker spent the first two seasons of his collegiate career as a depth player at Alabama, but he finally burst onto the scene after he transferred to UCF in 2022. Over the past two years, Baker has put together 108 receptions for 1935 yards and 12 touchdowns. His average of 21.9 yards per reception in 2023 (which ranked second in the FBS during 2023) puts into perspective some of the results that are possible when the ball finds Baker’s hands. He is a superb route runner with a diverse tree and utilizes speed changes and deception to keep defenders guessing.

As a WR1 or WR2, Baker could find struggles early on in his NFL career. However, tossing him into a Vikings offense that features Addison and Jefferson (and eventually T.J. Hockenson when he recovers from his injury) inevitably will force defenses to put less attention on Baker. He can make opponents pay in that role. If Baker were to be available at the 108th overall pick, the Vikings should seriously consider taking him there.

Roman Wilson (NFL Draft)

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Roman Wilson (1) against the Washington Huskies during the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Roman Wilson is much more of a prototypical slot receiver, so he might not have quite as much versatility as Baker at the NFL level. For instance, Wilson certainly isn’t as polished a route runner as Baker is at this point.

However, Wilson’s strengths after the catch and downfield make him an intriguing target for the Vikings. He brings sub-4.4 speed to the table and is capable of being lightning in a bottle for any NFL team. Michigan often utilized him on screens to get the ball in his hands as quickly as possible, thus allowing him to accelerate and pick up massive YAC numbers.

The Vikings have not utilized much of a screen game over the past couple years, which has made some second and third down situations a little more difficult. Wilson could be a player who can rejuvenate that area of the Vikings offense.


Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference and Sports Reference CFB.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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