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 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.


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.


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.


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.


St. Louis 2
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Miami 7 FINAL
Washington 11
Detroit 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 6 FINAL
Baltimore 5
NY Yankees 7 FINAL
Houston 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 2
Cincinnati 8 FINAL
LA Angels 6
Chicago Cubs 7 Bottom 9th Inning
Kansas City 0
Los Angeles 8 Bottom 8th Inning
San Francisco 9
Chicago WSox 4 FINAL
Cleveland 1
Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Oakland 7
Seattle 5 FINAL
San Diego 8
Texas 5 Bottom 8th Inning
Los Angeles 10
Colorado 9 Bottom 9th Inning
Arizona 8
Arizona 1 FINAL
Colorado 2
Houston 99 FINAL
Washington 91
LA Lakers 99 FINAL
Brooklyn 107
Minnesota 88 FINAL
New Orleans 110
Philadelphia 86 FINAL
Cleveland 87
Detroit 44 3rd Qtr
Miami 49
LA Clippers 68 3rd Qtr
Boston 47
Dallas 5 1st Qtr 10:31
Indiana 2
Memphis 4 1st Qtr 9:27
San Antonio 8
Oklahoma City 8:00 PM
Washington 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 2
Calgary 4 3rd Prd 9:46
Nashville 2
Boston 1 3rd Prd 13:26
Carolina 1
Detroit 4 3rd Prd 11:44
NY Islanders 5
Florida 2 3rd Prd 14:01
Ottawa 1
Anaheim 0 1st Prd 17:10
New Jersey 0
Chicago 6:30 PM
San Jose 6:30 PM
Michigan State 76 FINAL
Louisville 70
Gonzaga 52 FINAL
Duke 66
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Toronto FC 6:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
(7) Florida State 74 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 80
Villanova 70 FINAL
West Virginia 75
Michigan 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 60
Temple 69 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 57
Siena 50 FINAL
Louisiana 52
St Marys-CA 66 FINAL
(5) Baylor 7:30 PM
(2) Notre Dame
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




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