Many experts thought the Vikings should go defense with their first-round selection. This idea was not without merit, as they finished near dead last in most defensive metrics. Instead, the Vikings selected former USC and Pitt wide receiver Jordan Addison, one of the most electrifying pass-catchers in his class, and the fantasy community can rejoice.
The most impressive part about it all? He won’t even be slated as the WR1 on the team, which means this air attack in Minnesota will be scary.
Addison will fill in the role of the departing Adam Thielen, who had spent his entire career with the Vikings up until this point. Thielen had carved himself out an impressive target share, even during Stefon Diggs’ tenure, but age seemed to catch up to him. His separation ability started to fizzle out and he saw himself with no offer on the table from the Vikings. As a result, he packed his bags and will catch passes from Bryce Young in Carolina.
Justin Jefferson’s talent is undeniable and is likely the best wide receiver in the entire NFL. He has quickly climbed the ladder, debuting with a 1,400-yard season, following that with a 1,600-yard sophomore campaign, before a record-breaking 1,800-yard year put him ahead of the pack. The only issue was the players around him, who couldn’t seem to pull any attention off of Jefferson and would often face double- or even triple-team coverage just to slow him down.
The Vikings tried to fix this with T.J. Hockenson, who spent most of his time with the rival Lions before a midseason trade sent him to the Twin Cities. He attracted over 80 receptions resulting in 519 yards in his 10 games with the Vikings. Throw in K.J. Osborn as well, who totaled a solid 650 yards last season, highlighted by a 157-yard performance in the largest comeback in NFL history. These two helped, but defenses still could afford to throw perimeter defenders at Jefferson without too much of a sacrifice and their season ended early because of it.
Enter Jordan Addison. At pick 23, where the casual fans see too many mouths to feed, the rookie sees an opportunity. Less than 24 hours after being drafted, Addison asked the team for the playbook and how he will be used in the offense.
“He has a desire to be great,” said HC Kevin O’Connell.
He can be great, with the Vikings’ third-highest pass rate and a top-five offense, according to PFF. Thus, he will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself despite the other pass-catchers on the roster.
Addison was picked fourth among WRs in this class, but this shouldn’t mean much for the Pitt and USC product. He was passed on by the three previous teams who chose to go with other receivers all in a row, which ultimately comes down to preference when picked that closely. After all, Addison was the winner of the Fred Biletnikoff Award in 2021, an honor given to the best receiver in college football, something the other receivers in the class cannot say. Before Addison, the award belonged to the likes of DeVonta Smith, Ja’Marr Chase, and Jerry Jeudy. This year it was given to Jalin Hyatt, who was drafted later to the New York Giants.
Addison has a quick, shifty nature about him that he did not display at the NFL Combine. His speed and athleticism are enough to cause issues for any defender, not to mention his extremely solid footwork. Given his burst, I would not be surprised to see him catch a lot of short passes or even take some handoffs on end-around plays just to get the ball in his hands, similar to what the Vikings do with Jefferson and Osborn.
This is without mention of his deep-threat abilities, likely even more threatening than his short game. At Pitt, Kenny Pickett liked to throw it deep to Addison and allowed him to have the best year of his college career. They played to his strengths, helping him create some of his best highlights. USC tended to force him into a shorter role, which he was talented at but limited his abilities. The staff in Minnesota should use him all around and fans will see his explosive talents.
“Addison has one of the highest ceilings among receivers in this draft, due to his blend of route-running chops and his all-around athleticism,” said Steve Smith Jr. The five-time Pro-Bowler had nothing but love for him in his film breakdown, highlighting his ability to shake down defenders in the open field and going as far as to call him a “true WR1.”
Certainly high praise for the young buck.
QUICK 2023 FANTASY OUTLOOK
Jordan Addison has found himself in a great position to be a WR2, potentially even a WR1 in fantasy this year. Before camp buzz hits, Addison is ranked WR41, in the same tier as JSN and George Pickens, in The Wolf’s 2023 Fantasy Rankings.
In dynasty, he should be considered a top-5 overall prospect in rookie drafts, only behind Jaxon Smith-Njigba at his position. Questions at the QB position should not be of concern considering the Vikings’ dire need to keep Justin Jefferson around; they will not let him be without an elite thrower. Quentin Johnston has a case against him, but either would be a great pick in the four-to-six range. As of now, Addison slides in at No. 4 overall on The Wolf’s 2023 Rookie Rankings.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
“This is a player-team connection that I frequently put in my mock drafts because I absolutely love Addison’s fit with the Vikings. The former Biletnikoff winner brings nuanced route-running skills and natural playmaking talent — making him the perfect complement to Justin Jefferson. With T.J. Hockenson and K.J. Osborn also in the mix, Kirk Cousins won’t have any shortage of pass catchers downfield,” wrote The Ringer’s Danny Kelly.