3 Minnesota Vikings who were a nice surprise in 2021

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) K.J. Osborn
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) K.J. Osborn /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) K.J. Osborn /

K.J. Osborn – WR

K.J. Osborn‘s 2021 season for the Vikings was easily the best feel-good storyline. After not registering a single offensive snap as a fifth-round rookie in 2020, Osborn surprised NFL defenses as the most productive third Minnesota receiver in years.

Every offseason, fans of each NFL team talk themselves into who the next player will be to take a massive leap. Grainy training camp videos taken on the cellphones of fans in attendance get entire fan bases excited about young players, only to see most of them fail to ever make a strong impact.

Jake Browning, for example, was heralded as the savior of Vikings camp this past summer when he was the only quarterback available for a night practice and he played well. The rest of the preseason played out, however, with Browning failing to make the roster.

Osborn was the exception to this, as he impressed players, coaches, and fans alike all offseason and watched that success translate into the regular season.

He posted 50 catches for 655 yards and seven touchdowns, the most productive pass-catcher the Vikings have had not named Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, or Stefon Diggs since Kyle Rudolph posted 840 yards in 2016.

Looking solely at wide receivers, Osborn’s 2021 season was the best for a receiver in Minnesota not named above since Greg Jennings in 2014. Now there’s a throwback.

The third receiver debate has been a topic for Vikings fans every offseason in recent memory. It seemed as if Minnesota had two studs at wideout each year, and then a whole lot of nothing behind them. Osborn appears to have finally solved that issue.

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It truly is an applauding feat for Osborn to achieve this after not seeing the field as a rookie. A testament to his hard work and dedication to his craft.