3 Vikings needs the draft can fix and 2 needs free agency can fix in 2023
By Luke Parrish
Where can the Vikings find a solid receiver to complement Justin Jefferson?
This is where things get tricky for the Vikings. They need a true WR2 to pair with Justin Jefferson for the future but theoretically, using a high-value draft pick on a player to be a secondary option seems like poor judgment.
Justin Jefferson has done just fine with Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn, and his numbers are probably going to be remarkable regardless of who lines up next to him. However, the team cannot afford that in the same way Jefferson can. While he picks up the big numbers, the passing game completely disappears when Jefferson gets shut down.
Osborn has been a very strong WR3, and I truly believe that is where he thrives. He is not consistent enough as the secondary receiver, and Thielen is nowhere close to the player he was a few years ago.
Free agency is a realistic method of getting a reliable WR2 for Kirk Cousins this offseason. Allen Lazard, DJ Chark, and Jakobi Meyers are all expected to hit the market, but they do not really push the envelope a whole lot, especially over Osborn. Lazard would be the only true upgrade, but the price tag for his services, given the rest of the market, is going to be a lot for a team that does not need to spend that much.
That leaves the draft, a class that features a lot of secondary weapons with so many different skill sets. Jaxon Smith-Njigba would be the ideal target as a slot weapon that creates after the catch and can turn on the burners for big gains. Xavier Hutchinson and A.T. Perry would provide plenty of size on the perimeter to take advantage when safeties bracket Jefferson.
There is also a scenario in which the Vikings simply trade for a wide receiver, just as so many teams have done recently. Jerry Jeudy and Brandin Cooks would be big-time splashes to bring a reliable weapon in from a team that needs to accumulate more assets for their rebuild.
Wide receiver is truly a win-win scenario for the Vikings right now. They can take a glance during free agency and kick the tires on the trade market leading up to the NFL Draft. If they do not find their guy in the early stages of the offseason, they can sit comfortably knowing that they can add a rookie to benefit the offense.