You might want to be sitting down for this one, but Adam Thielen has gone from being an unknown UDFA out of Minnesota State Mankato to becoming one of the NFL’s top receivers.
Aside from being a living, breathing plot for a future Disney movie, Thielen had a down year in 2019. But it had nothing to do with his performance.
Thielen ranked third among all qualifying receivers in passer rating when targeted at 131.9 last season and was respectable in PFF’s overall receiving grades at 22nd. Thielen was also solid when it came to yards per route run with 1.86 and that number jumped to 1.99 when he was lined up in the slot according to PFF.
The issue with Thielen comes from a hamstring injury suffered in Week 7 last season against the Detroit Lions.
After trying to return from the injury too soon, Thielen wasn’t himself until the Vikings’ first-round playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints, a contest in which he made a long grab to set up the eventual game-winning touchdown. That paints the picture for what Thielen will be facing this season.
If the hamstring injury was a fluke, Thielen should be one of the top targets in the NFL with Stefon Diggs gone to Buffalo. If the injury is a product of his advanced age, it could signal the beginning of the end despite Thielen not having much tread on his tires during his first couple of seasons in the league.
To make things simple, Minnesota will need a healthy Thielen to get to where they want to go in 2020.