5 Bold Predictions: Minnesota Vikings vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Week 1

Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison / David Berding/GettyImages
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Prediction No. 2

Josh Oliver will catch a touchdown pass

A lot of training camp was dedicated to T.J. Hockenson’s ear infection/sore back/contract hold-in, but an under-the-radar storyline has been the development of Josh Oliver.

Many fans scratched their heads when Oliver became the Vikings’ first signing of free agency. With three years and $21 million, they also wondered why they would make such a commitment to a blocking tight end. But Oliver is more than capable of making an impact in the passing game.

Oliver was a receiving specialist coming out of San Jose State, catching 56 passes for 70-9 yards and four touchdowns in his senior season with the Spartans. While that hasn’t shown up in his four seasons in the NFL (26 catches, 230 yards, and two touchdowns) he developed as a blocker, ranking second behind former Baltimore Ravens teammate Isaiah Likely in Pro Football Focus’s run-blocking grades last season.

This has made Oliver a do-it-all tight end and one that could have an impact this season. With teams focusing on Hockenson, Oliver could be the forgotten man and one that slides into advantageous matchups this season. 

This includes Sunday’s matchup, where Lavonte David will likely match up with Hockenson after grading second in PFF’s coverage grades among linebackers last season, but Oliver will match up with White, who graded 69th out of 88 qualifiers.

It’s hard for a 6-foot-5, 249-pound man to sneak into the end zone, but Oliver could do just that to lead the Vikings’ passing game.