Breaking down the Minnesota Vikings wide receiver situation

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Adam Thielen
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Adam Thielen /
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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - DECEMBER 08: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Bisi Johnson #81 catches a pass for a touchdown as Detroit Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye #24 defends during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Bisi Johnson. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Who emerges as WR2?

Before the Vikings traded away Stefon Diggs, they had the luxury of having two wide receivers with the potential to be WR1 on many teams. As a duo, Adam Thielen and Diggs, they were always in the conversation as one of the best in the NFL.

Now they need to determine who will be the starter alongside Thielen.

At this point, with no OTA’s in place to provide any tangible input, the leading contender is Tajae Sharpe. After Thielen, Sharpe, a fifth-round selection of Tennessee in 2016, has the most experience of the remaining receivers on the Vikings’ roster.

Even with missing the 2017 seasons with a foot injury, Sharpe joins the Vikings with 92 receptions, 1,167 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns. While nowhere near the kind of performance the Vikings lose with Diggs’ departure, it is the most of any receiver on the roster not named Thielen. In the three seasons Sharpe played with the Titans, he started 29 of 47 games. In 2019, he only started six games but had his highest catch percentage at 71.4—not that bad considering Diggs’ catch percentage last season was 67.

On a slightly negative note, in the three seasons that Sharpe played with Tennessee, the best he ever finished was third among the wide receivers in receptions. There needs to be a step-change improvement for him in order for the Vikings to be successful.

Pushing Sharpe for the WR2 position will be Bisi Johnson. A seventh-round draft pick from last season, Johnson was active for the entire season last year, making six starts. He finished with 31 receptions for 294 yards and three touchdowns. His catch percentage of 68.9 falls right on top of Diggs’ career mark of 68.4 percent over five seasons.

Last year, I did not predict Johnson making the team, but with the experience of an entire year under his belt, this year he will not only make the team, but will have a significant role and could be the reason Sharpe fails to make the final roster.

Having already detailed Justin Jefferson’s situation on the previous slide, and with the hefty expectations that come with a first-round draft pick, Jefferson is certainly in the mix to win the WR2 position. According to a tweet from PFF College, Jefferson had 109 receptions from the slot position. That means he only caught two passes outside the slot.

There is a good chance this is where he plays the most this season. That does not necessarily drop him down to WR3, but it might give another receiver a better shot at earning the other outside position.