Jun 11, 2013; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) chases wide receiver Jerome Simpson (81) in drills at the Minnesota Vikings Minicamp at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
OTAs and minicamp are in the books, so this would be a natural time to revisit various positions of interest on the Vikings’ roster. Wide receiver got the bulk of the media attention during the OTA/minicamp period and with good reason. People are intensely curious about how the Vikings’ receiver corps will come together. Lots of new faces in there plus some hold-overs who are still somewhat unknown quantities. Let’s run it down again:
1. Greg Jennings
His little early ankle problem did not hamper him once it was time to take the field. Jennings came in with a reputation as a pro’s pro and he’s done nothing to alter that. His work with Cordarrelle Patterson shows he’s willing to mentor the young guys, increasing his value beyond the on-field production. Jennings was brought in to provide veteran stability and has stepped right into a leadership role.
2. Jerome Simpson
His Superman catch had everyone buzzing. Nice. But we already knew Simpson is a fine athlete. Can he find consistency? Will he put the work in to become a better route-runner? Will he get over his habit of dropping passes? Can he become the downfield weapon the Vikings need? Still tons of questions about this guy.
3. Jarius Wright
Got some nice positive mentions including one from Pete Prisco. He really seems to be coming along nicely. I have to believe the ultimate plan is for this guy to slide into a #3 receiver role behind Jennings and, eventually, Cordarrelle Patterson. Might see lots more action if Patterson develops slowly and Simpson struggles.
4. Cordarrelle Patterson
His talent is getting rave reviews. But there is a long road ahead before this guy becomes a truly polished NFL receiver. Fans are high on him but I think it would be more prudent to take a wait-and-see attitude. There’s more to this whole thing than just being fast and having some moves.
5. Stephen Burton
Another guy who got some good reviews. But really it’s hard to find a role for him on this team if things work out right. There are more talented players below him on the depth chart. The Vikes are hoping one or two of those guys catch on, making Burton expendable. He clings to his #5 spot by virtue of experience.
6. Joe Webb
So Joe Webb caught everything thrown his way in minicamp? Great. I’m pretty sure most of the receivers did. The basic ability to catch balls thrown to you in no-contact practice sessions is, I would say, the minimum that should be expected. So Joe did the minimum. Get back to me when this guy wins a roster spot. The people saying he can be Percy Harvin really need to stop taking drugs.
7. Adam Thielen
This guy was the surprise riser of minicamp. The Minnesota State-Mankato prospect came in as a UFA and showed great speed and unexpected playmaking. He stood out over all the other try-out guys and has asserted himself as a guy you have to watch in training camp. Can he leapfrog a couple guys and grab that fifth spot? We’ll see.
8. Greg Childs
He’s still rehabbing from the double patella tendon blow-out and so hasn’t been able to actually practice. The tenacious young man warrants our attention not just because he’s a feel-good story. He warrants it because, if he does manage to get himself right, he could be truly valuable to the Vikings. Of all the guys on the roster, he probably has the most immediate potential as a downfield receiver. He was drafted because of those attributes. So it would really help the Vikings if he somehow managed to stay healthy and show some stuff in camp. But it’s a big big question mark.
Where are we at?
Not a lot has been resolved so far. Guys pretty much showed what we already knew they had. Thielen was the one guy who sort of established himself. Nobody fell out of it and, the better news, nobody got hurt. Training camp will be interesting for multiple reasons. We need to see Simpson and Wright more, we need to see some early development from Patterson and of course that depth chart needs to be filled in at the bottom.