Vikings need another go-to WR

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — No pair of teammates last season totaled more than the 215 combined catches amassed by Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs for Minnesota.

With Thielen and Diggs, the Vikings were also one of only four teams with two members of the 1,000-yard club last year. They ought to be set then at wide receiver, right, with those time-worn training camp competitions for playing time mostly taking place at other positions?

Well, not so much in the passing-oriented NFL these days, a necessity of having at least three starting-caliber players available the Vikings were reminded of during the fade by the offense during the second half of last season. So even though they can lean on established excellence at the top of their wide receiver depth chart, the Vikings have likewise embarked this summer on a critical task of developing the rest of the group so another go-to target can emerge for quarterback Kirk Cousins.

For Chad Beebe, Jordan Taylor, Laquon Treadwell, Brandon Zylstra and a handful of underthe-radar rookies, the opportunity is, no pun intended, wide open.

“I think it’s a great mix of talent in that room. They come in all shapes and sizes, so we kind of just try to focus on what the guys do well,” offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski said.

If draft picks automatically panned out the way teams projected them to, this spot would already be sewn up by Treadwell. The 2016 first-round selection has struggled with injuries and confidence over his first three years and not displayed enough speed and instinct to consistently run open routes. Though Treadwell posted career bests in 2018 with 35 receptions and 302 yards and one touchdown last season, the willingness of Cousins to throw his way on key plays was not rewarded with nearly enough production. Beebe, just as Thielen did six years ago, landed on the practice squad after using the rookie tryout camp to latch on in the spring. Then he was elevated to the active roster and caught three passes in his debut against Detroit before missing four games with a hamstring injury. Though he’s only 5-foot-10, his skills have flashed enough potential to stay firmly in the mix for a significant role in the new scheme under Stefanski and offensive adviser Gary Kubiak.