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Cedric Tillman Vikings

3 WRs Vikings Should Target In 2023 NFL Draft

  • Jack McKessy
  • March 13, 2023
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The Minnesota Vikings have one of the best—if not the best—young wide receivers in the league in Justin Jefferson. But after the Vikings released 10-year veteran Adam Thielen on Friday to free up some cap space, they’re missing some talented, complementary pass-catchers around Jefferson in their receivers room.

As a team without a second-round pick and more pressing needs elsewhere on the roster, Minnesota likely won’t be in the running for any of the top receiver names in this year’s draft class. There’s a good chance they look to pursue another veteran receiving talent in free agency, but drafting a young option on day two or three to pair with Jefferson certainly would not hurt their roster.

In his prime, Thielen used his elite route-running skills to create chunk plays for the Vikings’ offense and put up a couple of 1,000-yard seasons and a second-team All-Pro nod while Stefon Diggs was still in the building. The Vikings could use a young guy to be the reliable No. 2 receiving option—or even No. 3 if they believe K.J. Osborn is their new WR2—that they’re missing now that they’ve parted ways with Thielen. These are three receiving options the Vikings should look into when the draft rolls around in April.

Tyler Scott, Cincinnati

With Scott, the Vikings would be replacing one explosive playmaker that created space easily with his good route-running with another guy who could provide much of the same. The former Bearcat may be under six feet tall but proved himself more than capable of winning as an outside receiver with his elite speed, twitch, route-running, and ball skills. On top of everything Scott can create before the catch with his easy separation, he’s a big yards-after-catch threat as well thanks to that same speed and twitch allowing him to be elusive. 

The Cincinnati product may need to work on building up his frame and limiting his drops once he takes the next step to the NFL level, but he’d still be a stellar day-two pick for a Vikings receiving corps that could use a new WR2.

Cedric Tillman, Tennessee

Jalin Hyatt got most of the attention in the Volunteers’ receiving corps this past season thanks to his speed and elite production with Tillman injured for most of the season. That said, Tillman might be an even better receiving prospect than Hyatt is in this year’s draft. He has the size, ball skills, and hands to win at the next level and proved he can be a big producer for the offense when healthy. In 2021, Tillman became the first 1,000-yard receiver at Tennessee since Justin Hunter in 2012 but had his 2022 season cut short due to injury. 

He’ll need some route tree development, particularly working horizontally, when he gets to the NFL, but Tillman would provide Minnesota with an excellent additional vertical threat at WR2 as soon as his rookie season.

Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State

If the Vikings would rather get themselves a guy that can work the middle of the field than a field-stretching, vertical threat, Hutchinson is their man. He’s another receiver with a fantastic route-running résumé with great hands that have made him so consistent in contested-catch situations. He’s a guy that has experience working both out of the slot and on the outside and has proven he can win routes wherever he lines up, made especially clear by his outstanding collegiate production. Hutchinson was the Cyclones’ leading receiver for the past three years in a row and in 2022, put up his first 1,000-yard season en route to becoming an AP All-American and Biletnikoff Award finalist. 

He doesn’t quite have the top-end speed or explosiveness to win vertically but can be extremely reliable and productive working short-to-intermediate routes in Minnesota’s offense.