Protecting your tailback

Last week, we took a look at the Minnesota Vikings’ full back and tight end depth charts. If you happened to miss the article, you can find it on Facebook through the web address that’s listed below.

Jordan COLUMN BOXThis week we take a look at the wide receiver position. In 2015, the Vikings were second to last in the NFL with only 2928 passing yards and 11 touchdowns (according to Pro Football Reference). There were a lot of factors why the Vikings’ passing game was inadequate, from a leaky offensive line to play calling that required Bridgewater to hold the ball longer than he would’ve liked. However, we cannot absolve the wide receivers as they also had their issues.
Stefon Diggs was a fifth round draft pick by Minnesota in 2015, and all he did his rookie season was lead the Vikings in receiving yards (720) to go along with his four touchdowns. Pro Football Focus rated Diggs as the 25th best wide receiver in the NFL, giving him a player grade of 82.0.
Laquon Treadwell was drafted by the Vikings in the first round of this year’s draft to (eventually) start across from Diggs. Treadwell doesn’t have speed like Diggs, but he is a big, physical receiver who can battle cornerbacks and outmuscle them to win most catches.
Jarius Wright’s 442 receiving yards were third out of Vikings receivers last season, slightly behind Mike Wallace’s 473. Wright was graded as the 65th best receiver in the NFL by PFF with a player grade of 70.0.
Adam Thielen finished 2015 with 12 receptions for 144 yards. Thielen’s PFF grade of 60.4 is the lowest on the team (after Wallace took his 55.4 grade to Baltimore).
Charles Johnson caught 9 passes for 127 yards and earned a player grade of 66.1.
Cordarrelle Patterson only played 61 snaps on offense last season, by far the least of any active receiver (Charles Johnson was next with 218). Patterson’s PFF grade at receiver was 61.5. However, his athleticism is off the charts, which was proven every time he returned a kickoff. Patterson led the NFL in yards per return (31.8) and touchdowns off returns (2).
Rounding out the receiving group, we have: Moritz Bohringer who was just drafted in the sixth round; Isaac Fruechte, who spent all of last season on the Vikings’ practice squad; Marken Michel, an undrafted rookie from UMass; Terrell Sinkfield, who ran a 4.19 second 40-yard dash and has spent the last two seasons in the Canadian Football League; and Troy Stoudermire, an undrafted rookie out of Minnesota.
Starters: Laquon Treadwell, Stefon Diggs, Jarius Wright
If everything goes according to plan, Treadwell will stake his claim as a starting receiver for the Vikings sooner rather than later. He and Diggs will form quite the duo, and when combined with Wright in the slot and Rudolph at tight end, the Vikings have the looks of a halfway decent receiving corp.
However, there is always a chance that Diggs has a sophomore slump and Treadwell takes a while to acclimate to the NFL. Luckily for the Vikings, they are a team built around the running game and a stout defense. If the worst case scenario were to occur, the Vikings won’t be any worse off than they were last season.
Backups: Cordarrelle Patterson, Charles Johnson, Adam Thielen
The Vikings had six receivers on the roster to begin last season, and I don’t foresee that changing. Patterson is entering the last year of his contact, and this will be his last chance he’s anything more than a kick returner. Charles Johnson was in line to start last season, but an injury derailed his season. Thielen is not a spectacular athlete but he is somewhat dependable, which is important in a backup player.
On the bubble: Moritz Bohringer, Isaac Fruechte, Marken Michel, Terrell Sinkfield, Troy Stoudermire
Bohringer was a nice story on draft day, but he will take a few years before he is ready to play in the NFL, so I see the Vikings placing him on their practice squad.