The Vikings didn’t select a wide receiver in the first round of the NFL Draft, passing on someone like Louisville’s DeVante Parker on Thursday. They didn’t pick one on Day 2 either, as names like Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong and Georgia’s Chris Conley came off the board on Friday.
Instead they waited until the fifth round, with the 146th overall pick, to add depth to the position on Saturday. The team’s patience paid off with the selection of Maryland’s Stefon Diggs.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman wants competition at every position on the roster, and it’ll be hard to find another position as competitive as wide receiver heading into Phase 2 of the NFL offseason this summer.
“[Diggs] was a guy, that when we got there at that point, he can do so many things,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said. “He’s played outside, he’s played in the slot, he’s done some return stuff but probably had a little bit of a year that was down for him and his standards. The multiple things that he can do, and again, any time we see an athlete and ability to develop these guys, and we felt that he’d fit right in that mold.”
The Vikings now have Mike Wallace, who they acquired from the Dolphins this offseason, Charles Johnson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jarius Wright, Adam Thielen and Diggs at wide receiver. They’ll likely carry five wide receivers once the roster is trimmed to 53 players (all of that will be determined in training camp). But if the Vikings keep five receivers like they did last year, one of these players will be the odd man out after five preseason games.
Good luck to the Vikings front office and coaching staff if it comes down to that decision.
It’s tough to even assume how it’ll play out in training camp outside of Wallace and Johnson, who are considered the top two receivers on the team. We all know it’s a big season for Patterson, who arguably has the most talent of the six receivers, and he needs to take that next step in Year 3. Wright has displayed flashes, particularly at the end of the season with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, as a downfield threat and a slot receiver that can move the chains. Thielen didn’t receive too many opportunities on offense, finishing with eight catches on 14 targets for 137 yards last year, but he was very impressive on special teams.
Now the Vikings add Diggs to the mix. He was the 19th wide receiver picked in a deep draft at the position. Diggs brings speed and versatility on offense with the ability to be used on special teams. Diggs had 62 catches for 792 yards and five touchdowns last year as a junior. He also averaged 23.9 kickoff yards and 15 punt return yards on special teams.
There are questions about his durability, but Diggs was a viewed as a good value pick in the fifth round by draft analysts.
“I’m a play maker and a dominant competitor,” Diggs said. “Outside of the game, on the practice field and in the game no matter where I am, I like to compete at all costs and I love to win. So that’s the type of attitude I bring to any situation. Now that I am a part of the family, I look forward to working my butt off and doing everything I can.”
We’ll see how it plays out in the coming months, but it’ll be a good competition to watch this summer.