Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has brought in a plethora of receivers and tight ends over the last few years to make it one of the strongest areas on the team.
Spielman signed Greg Jennings last year to give the Vikings a No. 1 receiver and traded back up in the first round to select Cordarrelle Patterson with the 29th pick. While rarely used at the start of the season serving as Jerome Simpson’s backup, Patterson role on offense gradually increased. He eventually proved to be just as dynamic as he was in college scoring nine total touchdowns as a receiver, running back and kick returner.
The team re-signed Jerome Simpson to a third consecutive one-year deal in the offseason to give the Vikings a vertical threat. Simpson didn’t miss a game for the second time in his career last season and finished with his most productive season in Minnesota (48 receptions, 726 receiving yards and a touchdown).
The Vikings will get their top tight end back this year too. Kyle Rudolph missed most of the season with a broken foot he suffered in Week 9 against the Cowboys. The team’s second round pick in 2011 is approaching a contract season and could have his most productive season yet, trumping 2012 when Rudolph posted career-highs in receptions (53), receiving yards (493) and touchdowns (9). Through eight games last year, he was on track to set career-highs with 30 receptions and 313 receiving yards until the injury.
John Carlson is the biggest loss at the position after both sides couldn’t agree on a pay cut. The Litchfield, Minn. native couldn’t stay healthy and never produced to the five-year, $25 million contract he signed in 2012. Carlson signed with the Cardinals in the offseason.
PROJECTED STARTERS: Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph
DON’T FORGET ABOUT: Jarius Wright made strides in his second season. He had two touchdowns against the Seahawks, burning cornerback Richard Sherman on a double move in the process. Wright also had 162 of his 434 receiving yards in the final three games.
LEVEL OF NEED: Medium. The Vikings seem set at wide receiver after bringing Jerome Simpson back on a one-year deal to give them four solid options. There’s depth concern at tight end however behind Rudolph. Chase Ford, Allen Reisner and Rhett Ellison are currently the backup options.
FIVE PROSPECTS TO REMEMBER: TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE Arthur Lynch, TE Crockett Gilmore, WR Devin Street, WR Cody Hoffman, WR Kevin Norwood
OUR BEST GUESS: The Vikings look for competition at wide receiver in the undrafted free agent market. There are some bigger needs to address to use a draft pick on a wideout and it’s a deep class. While tight end is down the list among needs, look for the Vikings to grab one on Day 3.