Rookie K.J. Osborn could be the new punt returner for the Minnesota Vikings.
After years of stability due to Marcus Sherels maintaining the role, the Minnesota Vikings had four different players return a punt for them last season. For 2020, there’s a good chance that someone completely new will begin the season as the Vikings punt returner.
Minnesota appeared to have moved on from Sherels last year, but then injuries forced them to give him a call and bring him back for a few games. He did fine during the regular season, however, his muffed catch on a punt return during the Vikings’ second-round playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers will likely end up going down as his last appearance in a purple and gold uniform.
There are a number of players on Minnesota’s current roster who could step in as the team’s new punt returner for 2020. But there seems to be one guy in particular that the Vikings have their eye on for the job.
Could a rookie be the new punt returner for the Minnesota Vikings in 2020?
During this year’s NFL Draft, Minnesota entered the fifth round with two selections. With their second pick in the round, the Vikings ended up adding former Miami wide receiver, K.J. Osborn.
Osborn was certainly not one of the top available receiving prospects in this year’s draft. However, it appears as though Minnesota won’t be asking him to do much in 2020 when it comes to being involved in their offense.
Instead, the Vikings seem to be heavily interested in making Osborn their new punt returner for the upcoming season. Minnesota special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf recently spoke about the rookie receiver and what he could add to the team as a returner.
“He did it for Miami last year, with the Hurricanes, and I thought he did a really good job.
He gets downhill very quickly, has a knack for catching the ball. I think that’s one of the most important things that always gets overlooked. I think people sometimes will look for athletic guys who can do it, but you’ve got to be able to catch the ball. He’s actually done both in college and done it very well.
You can see his explosiveness, his vision, and his anticipation before he catches the ball. You can kind of see his eyes scanning. He’s got the talent to do that, and I’m really looking forward to just getting together with him.”
With Miami last year, Osborn returned 16 punts for 255 yards (15.9 yards per return). He’s got pretty good speed (4.48 in the 40-yard dash) and one of his pro comparisons according to MockDraftable is current New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate.
There are a few other guys that could be in the mix to be the Vikings punt returner in 2020 including Mike Hughes, Chad Beebe, Bisi Johnson, and Ameer Abdullah. However, Osborn seems to be the guy Minnesota would like to see take over the role for the upcoming season.