Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


As Vikings look for help at receiver, here are 12 names to keep tabs on

Posted by: under Vikings, NFL draft, Packers, Percy Harvin, Vikings draft Updated: February 26, 2013 - 12:15 PM

For the second straight offseason, the Vikings are looking to upgrade their receiving corps to enliven a sputtering passing attack. For perspective, the team’s top three receivers in 2012 – Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson -- combined for 128 catches, 1,400 yards and five touchdowns. Detroit’s Calvin Johnson alone had 122 grabs, 1,965 yards and five scores.

So just where might the Vikings’ turn this offseason for receiving help? They’ll have options just about everywhere. With that in mind, we’re giving you a look at 12 potential targets.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENCY

Greg Jennings – This is the most popular name suggested by fans. And at first glance, it seems perfectly logical. For the past seven seasons, the Vikings have had to deal with Jennings’ playmaking ability. He’s a proven veteran, consistently productive and, by all accounts, a solid teammate. But … (And you knew the “but” was coming right?) Jennings will turn 30 in September, has missed 11 games the past two seasons due to injury and may ultimately seek a reunion with Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, who was his offensive coordinator in Green Bay for five seasons. Weekend reports indicate that the Packers might consider putting the franchise tag on Jennings. But even if he were to hit free agency, he is likely to command the type of top-dollar contract the Vikings’ are aversive to delivering in free agency. Unless the price tag comes way, way down – it’s probably north of $11 million a year at present – Jennings won’t be a serious Vikings target.

Brandon Gibson – Just to get it on the record: like Jennings, Dwayne Bowe and Mike Wallace also figure to request big pay days in March. And so the Vikings will likely instead turn their attention to that second tier of receivers. Enter Gibson, a rising 25-year-old playmaker who’s coming off a 51-catch, 691-yard, five-TD season in St. Louis. He isn’t a burner. But he runs good routes, has admirable ball skills and could be a bargain overall.

Donnie Avery – Avery’s best game of 2012 came against the Vikings. In a 23-20 Colts win in September, he delivered nine catches for 111 yards including a key 20-yard grab on Indianapolis’ game-winning drive in the final minute. Overall, Avery had 60 receptions for 781 yards with three TDs last season. He also has the one thing the Vikings currently lack – an ability to consistently get open deep. Yes, Avery has issues with bad drops at times. But he may also be available for relatively cheap.

NFL DRAFT: FIRST OR SECOND ROUND

Keenan Allen – If the Vikings want to take a receiver with the No. 23 pick and Allen is still on the board, this may be a no-brainer. Don’t be scared off by his modest 2012 stats (61 catches, 737 yards, six TDs). The Cal offense and inconsistency of quarterback Zach Maynard (Allen’s brother) played a big role in that. Allen is a proven playmaker with a good combination of quickness and body control and a knack for making the contested catch. As we mentioned the other day, the comparisons to Anquan Boldin may have validity.

Terrance Williams – In 2011, Williams contributed 957 yards and 11 touchdowns to Robert Griffin III’s Heisman Trophy campaign at Baylor. And after RG3’s exit, Williams productivity skyrocketed as he posted an NCAA-best 1,832 receiving yards last fall. Williams is a deep threat and a guy who can also be a go-to playmaker in the red zone.

Quinton Patton – A second-team All-American at Louisiana Tech, Patton averaged nine catches and 116 receiving yards per game with 13 touchdowns last season. He’s quick and he’s smooth. He’s competitive and he’s a high character kid as well. Patton may not be an impact guy as a rookie. But he has a bright future. His competitive edge stood out last month during practices at the Senior Bowl. And if you want proof of his ability to break open a game? Well, take a look at this box score from a loss to Texas A&M last October: 21 catches, 233 yards, four touchdowns.

Justin Hunter – Hunter’s 2011 season was cut short by an ACL tear. And while his comeback from that injury wasn’t quite Peterson-esque, he did post 73 catches, 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns last fall in an offense that also featured fellow draft prospect Cordarelle Patterson. Hunter can flat out run. And he has an ability to make acrobatic catches as well.

DeAndre Hopkins – Want evidence of Hopkins’ flash? Cue up highlights of Clemson’s Chick-fil-A Bowl win over LSU. In that contest, Hopkins had 13 catches, 191 yards and two scores, completing a breakthrough season in which he showcased his terrific hands and run-after-catch ability. Hopkins’ 4.57-second time in the 40-yard dash Sunday could push him back into the second round, where he'd be a great value pick for the Vikings.

Robert Woods – When you weight the possibility that guys like Hopkins and Woods could still be in play on the draft’s second day, you can understand why the Vikings might opt to address another big need in the first round and then take their chances with a deep receiving pool. Woods was prolific during his three-year career at Southern Cal. He was a starter since his freshman year and posted career totals of 250 catches, 2,933 yards and 32 receiving TDs. Folks in Minnesota may remember the 11-catch, 115-yard, three-TD explosion he had in the first half of the Trojans’ 19-17 win over the Golden Gophers in 2011.

MIDDLE TO LATE ROUNDS

Aaron Mellette – Yes, he played at Elon, a Football Championship Subdivision program that plays in the Southern Conference. So that smaller school stigma will exist. But as a senior Mellette had 97 catches, 1,408 yards and 18 TDs, enough to earn him invitations to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. At the former, against strong competition, he excelled all week. “Hopefully I answered some questions with that,” he said. Mellette also said he wanted “to open some eyes” with his speed in the 40-yard dash this weekend. But on Sunday, he posted a time of 4.54 seconds. Still, speed shouldn’t be the tell-all on Mellette’s ability as a receiver. Overall, his technique is solid and his confidence is there.

Josh Boyce – Five receivers posted times below 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash on Sunday. Boyce was one of them, clocking in at 4.38 seconds. He also delivered 22 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, the second best total among receivers. It’s that blend of speed and strength that could prove intriguing. Boyce has good hands, good quickness and is versatile enough to work outside or out of the slot.

Brandon Kaufman – At 6-foot-5 and 216 pounds, the Eastern Washington standout is a big target and a potential deep threat. Questions exist about his burst and route running ability. But if he can show satisfactory speed and improve his physicality, his ability to go up and get the ball is intriguing. His 4.67-second time in the 40 this weekend didn't help.

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Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 4 FINAL
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
NY Mets 4 Bottom 4th Inning
Washington 2
Boston 6:05 PM
Minnesota
Toronto 6:05 PM
Baltimore
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Chicago
Dallas 9:30 PM
Portland
Calgary 6:00 PM
Boston
St. Louis 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Washington
Toronto 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Dallas 6:30 PM
Florida
NY Islanders 7:00 PM
Nashville
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Arizona
Montreal 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 2nd Half 1:00
Siena 71
Holy Cross 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Western Ky 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Navy 6:00 PM
Colgate
Temple 6:00 PM
East Carolina
UAB 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Lafayette
American Univ 6:00 PM
Lehigh
Wisconsin 6:00 PM
Minnesota
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Saint Peters
Arkansas 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Morehead State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
North Florida
Southern Ill 6:05 PM
Missouri State
Texas State 6:30 PM
Appalachian St
SC State 6:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Delaware State 6:30 PM
Coppin State
Middle Tennessee 6:30 PM
FIU
Texas-Arlington 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Norfolk State 6:30 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:30 PM
NC Central
Savannah State 7:00 PM
Florida A&M
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Georgia State 7:00 PM
ULM
Marshall 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Rice 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ark-Little Rock 7:15 PM
Louisiana
South Alabama 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
Alabama State 7:30 PM
Grambling St
Alabama A&M 7:30 PM
Jackson State
Sam Houston St 7:30 PM
Lamar
Central Arkansas 7:30 PM
Nicholls
Portland State 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Southern U 7:30 PM
Prairie View
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Texas Southern
Houston Baptist 7:30 PM
TX A&M-CC
SE Louisiana 7:45 PM
New Orleans
California 8:00 PM
Arizona
Eastern Ill 8:00 PM
Belmont
Memphis 8:00 PM
Connecticut
VA Commonwealth 8:00 PM
Davidson
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Marist 8:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Northwestern St 8:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
North Texas 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 8:00 PM
Washington
Idaho 8:00 PM
Weber State
Abilene Christian 8:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Eastern Wash 8:05 PM
Idaho State
Bradley 8:35 PM
Drake
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
Long Beach State
UC Riverside 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Stanford 10:00 PM
Arizona State
Utah 10:00 PM
Washington St
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 47 2nd Half 7:17
UCLA 61
Texas State 55 2nd Half 0:17
Appalachian St 60
TX-Arlington 66 2nd Half 0:32
Georgia Southern 41
SC State 27 2nd Half 20:00
Bethune-Cookman 24
Delaware State 51 2nd Half 14:20
Coppin State 32
Portland 31 2nd Half 16:34
Santa Clara 40
Norfolk State 21 2nd Half 17:10
Hampton 32
NC A&T 45 2nd Half 14:13
NC Central 21
Savannah State 32 1st Half 3:43
Florida A&M 19
Virginia Tech 15 1st Half 0:53
Pittsburgh 15
Central Arkansas 12 1st Half 5:06
Nicholls 31
Houston Baptist 29 1st Half 1:00
TX A&M-CC 37
Gardner-Webb 33 1st Half 1:40
Radford 17
Georgia 25 1st Half 3:34
Missouri 17
Old Dominion 26 1st Half 0:17
Marshall 26
Ark-Little Rock 26 1st Half 2:24
Louisiana 18
South Alabama 16 1st Half 6:10
Arkansas State 28
Georgia State 11 1st Half 10:31
ULM 13
Sam Houston St 5:30 PM
Lamar
SE Louisiana 5:30 PM
New Orleans
Northwestern St 5:30 PM
Stephen F Austin
Alabama A&M 5:30 PM
Jackson State
Southern U 5:30 PM
Prairie View
Alabama State 4 1st Half 16:41
Grambling 6
Alcorn State 6 1st Half 14:36
Texas Southern 8
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 9 1st Half 12:20
Mercer 11
Abilene Christian 6:00 PM
Incarnate Word
La Salle 6:00 PM
Rhode Island
Illinois 6:00 PM
Nebraska
TX-San Antonio 6:00 PM
Rice
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
Oakland
Missouri State 6:05 PM
Indiana State
Georgia Tech 7:00 PM
(15) North Carolina
Presbyterian 7:00 PM
High Point
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
UAB
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
North Texas
Wichita State 7:00 PM
Evansville
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Bradley 7:05 PM
Drake
Vanderbilt 7:30 PM
(12) Kentucky
Colorado 8:00 PM
USC
San Francisco 8:00 PM
Pacific
FIU 8:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Idaho State 8:00 PM
Eastern Washington
Weber State 8:00 PM
Idaho
Purdue 8:25 PM
Minnesota
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Long Beach St 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Hawaii 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Northern Ariz 9:00 PM
Portland State
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Utah 10:30 PM
Washington
BYU 10:30 PM
St Marys-CA

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