Vikings wide receiving corps is looking lethal heading into 2022

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn /

As reports come out from Minnesota Vikings training camp, the team’s receiving corps has been getting constant praise from those in attendance.

Going into the 2022 NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings are looking to have one of the best receiving duos in the league with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. But as reports come out from Vikings training camp, it seems that the team’s talent at the wide receiver position is much deeper than just their top-two studs.

The Minnesota player getting the most praise this offseason has been the third-year receiver out of Miami, K.J. Osborn. Year one for Osborn was certainly a letdown, as he did not have a single catch, and he was sparsely used as a returner.

Year two for Osborn saw him take a massive leap, tallying 50 receptions for 655 yards and seven touchdowns while working as a solid replacement for an injured Thielen. Now heading into year three, it seems as though Osborn is poised to take another step forward, as he has been tearing it up during Minnesota’s training camp and is looking to be the solidified WR3 for the new-look Vikings offense.

How is the rest of the Minnesota Vikings wide receiver group shaping up?

As the top-three receivers look to be solidified for the Vikings, the WR4 spot was up for grabs going into training camp. As practices have gone on, it seems as though second-year wideout Ihmir Smith-Marsette has the upper hand for the No. 4 spot.

Smith-Marsette’s rookie year got off to a rocky start last season, as he sustained a toe injury early in the year that sidelined him for multiple weeks. He ended up appearing in only eight games and he tallied just five catches on the season. Three of his catches came in Minnesota’s final matchup of the season against the Chicago Bears, where he displayed his big-play ability by racking up 103 yards and one touchdown.

Now as camp goes on, it appears as though the second-year speedster is ready to step up and improve upon his end to the 2021 season. And with the Vikings’ new offensive scheme, the No. 4 receiver is expected to be a valuable piece to the team’s success.

As you get to the WR5 position, this is where the biggest battle appears to be for the receiver group. Veteran Minnesota wide receiver Bisi Johnson, rookie Jalen Nailor, special teamer Dan Chisena, and free-agent signing Trishton Jackson are all in the mix to take the fifth receiver spot this summer.

Johnson should have the upper hand, as he has the most NFL experience and he is the only option who has played with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Chisena and Jackson have very little NFL experience, so they have an uphill battle to compete for a spot, but reports from camp have been positive about both players in regards to their production in team drills.

Nailor is the most enticing player of the group, as the 2022 sixth-round pick out of Michigan State has been shown blowing by defenders in camp. Nailor’s 40-time at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine shocked some scouts, as his 4.50 time was slower than some expected, but it seems that Nailor plays much faster than his 40-time would convey.

The Vikings having stout competition all the way at the WR5 position is a great problem to have, as it shows how deep the receiving corps has become in Minnesota. With the No. 1 and No. 2 receivers being bonafide stars, the No. 3 receiver a budding playmaker, WR4 as a big play threat, and the WR5 and WR6 as a mix of talent, the sky is the limit for this Vikings receiving group.

With Irv Smith Jr.’s injury history and Minnesota’s other tight ends being unproven, Cousins will have to lean more on the team’s receiving corps, and there is more than enough talent for him to choose from. With new Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell at the helm, it’s exciting to think about just how explosive Minnesota’s offense could be in 2022.

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