Minnesota Vikings NFL Draft needs: 2021 has more wide receiver options

Ja'Marr Chase #1 of the LSU Tigers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Ja'Marr Chase #1 of the LSU Tigers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Vikings took advantage of a deep wide receiver cast in the 2020 NFL Draft, but 2021’s class could be even better.

The Minnesota Vikings had a pressing need to find a replacement for wide receiver Stefon Diggs after trading him to the Buffalo Bills in return for a first-round NFL Draft pick.

That pick, of course, was then used to grab Diggs’ hopeful replacement, LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson, at No. 22 overall.

Jefferson was one of many top-talented wide receivers in what was viewed as arguably the deepest and most talented receiving draft class in recent memory. While other collegiate prospects like Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III topped the list, Jefferson was right up there. And there’s little reason to expect Jefferson won’t be anything but an excellent complement to veteran wideout Adam Thielen.

Here’s the thing, though: The 2021 NFL Draft class at wide receiver is potentially going to be even better than the one we witnessed this year.

The folks over at Pro Football Focus put together an excellent breakdown about this, starting off with the highlight everyone wants to know about the 2021 class:

"The 2020 wide receiver class was heralded as an all-timer. When the dust settled, 11 of the top 50 picks in the 2020 draft were receivers. And while it remains to be seen how they’ll fare in the pros, that’s an already incredibly impressive start to the class from a draft capital perspective. The crazy thing is, the 2021 class has a good chance to beat it. The 16 receivers below are already likely to earn Day 1 or Day 2 grades from us here at PFF, and that’s not to mention the inevitable Justin Jefferson-esque breakout that’s sure to happen from a lesser-known receiver in 2020."

Just like 2020, there are going to be starting-caliber wideouts available in Rounds 3, 4 or potentially 5. And if not starters, at least solid contributors in a reserve role.

As for the top of the crop, some potential first-round players to watch are:

  • Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
  • Justyn Ross, Clemson
  • DeVonta Smith, Alabama
  • Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
  • Rondale Moore, Purdue
  • Seth Williams, Auburn

Following the addition of Jefferson and, to a lesser extent, Miami’s K.J. Osborn in Round 5, it might seem counterintuitive the Minnesota Vikings add yet another receiver, particularly early.

But there are reasons to suspect otherwise.

Minnesota Vikings could target another wide receiver early in the 2021 NFL Draft

There’s always the obvious worry about a player like Jefferson not panning out and failing to meet desired expectations. It happens with every rookie, and concerns about Jefferson being a proverbial “one-year wonder” at the college level could be what draws attention here.

Experienced depth behind Thielen could be a problem, particularly with Diggs gone and the Laquon Treadwell experiment coming to a full close with him departing in free agency. After Diggs and Thielen, no Vikings wideout crested over 300 receiving yards in 2019.

Landing that No. 3 option could be just as crucial as ensuring Jefferson’s maturation process goes as smoothly as possible.

Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s system is going to be more about balance; spreading the ball out to a variety of options. Again, Osborn could be a gem of a find to fill this kind of role. But it also might be prudent to pair a young up-and-coming receiver on a rookie contract with Jefferson, taking pressure off the aging Thielen, who’ll turn 30 years old before the start of the 2020 campaign.

dark. Next. 4 potential Vikings needs in the 2021 NFL Draft

Either way, don’t be shocked if the Minnesota Vikings are strongly looking at even more wide receiver options a little less than a year from now.

If anything, why not? There should be plenty of top-tier options available.