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2021 NFL Draft Prospects for Vikings: Wide Receivers

View photos of potential wide receivers the Vikings can select in the 2021 NFL Draft. Read the full story HERE.

In the lead-up to the 2021 NFL Draft, Vikings.com is taking a position-by-position look at prospects who have garnered a range of attention from national outlets. The series will include rankings, stats and background information for multiple prospects. We'll also include comments that experts shared during interviews.

Vikings status at receiver

Unlike a year ago when the Vikings were almost certain to add a receiver early in the draft, the team has some other needs that are more pressing. This is because Adam Thielen maintained his excellence and 2021 first-round pick Justin Jefferson turned in a record-setting rookie season.

The Vikings plans beyond Thielen and Jefferson remain to be seen. Will first-year Offensive Coordinator Klint Kubiak involve more three-receiver sets? Or will he continue the frequent use of two receivers along with two tight ends and a running back or a running back, fullback and tight end that were utilized under Gary Kubiak?

Chad Beebe re-signed after turning in his first healthy season and showed glimpses of why coaches and teammates have been so high on him during offseasons. Bisi Johnson started three games, including the first two of the season. He knows every receiver spot in what has been the Vikings offense for the past two seasons. K.J. Osborn and Dan Chisena joined Minnesota last year but played exclusively on special teams.

The Vikings quest to establish a bona fide third receiver has spanned multiple seasons. It could still be done from within, but some analysts' mock drafts have the Vikings taking a receiver in the first round if a top talent somehow falls to No. 14.

If that sounds outlandish, remember Cris Carter and Jake Reed were in the receivers room at Winter Park when Minnesota drafted Randy Moss at No. 21 overall in 1998.

Ask the analyst

Ron Johnson, an analyst with FOX 9 KMSP, KFAN 100.3 and the Vikings Entertainment Network, recently caught up with VEN's Gabe Henderson to discuss this year's crop of receivers. Johnson was drafted in the fourth round by Baltimore in 2002. He played two seasons for the Ravens with Brian Billick as his head coach. Billick was Minnesota's offensive coordinator from 1994-98 and in place when the Vikings ushered in the "Three Deep" era with the selection of Moss.

Johnson was a freshman at the University of Minnesota that fall. He recorded 196 catches for 2,931 yards and 31 touchdowns in four seasons for the Golden Gophers. Follow him on Twitter @3RonJohnson for his analysis.

Expert rankings

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah currently has seven receivers in his overall Top 50: 3. Ja'Marr Chase, 5. Jaylen Waddle, 6. DeVonta Smith, 23. Kadarius Toney, 37. Terrace Marshall, Jr., 38. Elijah Moore and 48. Rashod Bateman.

ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr., has the same top four receivers in his overall Top 25 but has them ranked differently: 3. Smith, 4. Chase, 5. Waddle and 24. Toney.

Rankings for each player within the quarterback position group by Jeremiah, his NFL Media counterpart Bucky Brooks, Kiper, analytics site Pro Football Focus and The Athletic's Dane Brugler are listed below.

Prospects

Note: Heights and weights are from each player's profile on NFL.com (linked for each player's name).

Ja'Marr-Chase-2560

School: LSU | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot | Wt: 201 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
WR1 WR1 WR2 WR1 WR1

2020 stats: opted out; 2019 stats: 14 games; 84 receptions for 1,780 yards (21.2 avg.) and 20 TD; 6.0 receptions per game; 127.1 receiving yards per game

LSU Pro Day results: NFLDraftScout.com posted that Chase ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds and had a vertical jump of 41 inches

Johnson's Recon: "He's a game-changer. … His jumping ability, the ability to go up and high-point a ball, he does that better than a lot of guys I've seen. I'm not going to say it because he's not that big, but the Julio Jones type of ball skills where the ball is in the air and the 50-50 balls are 80-20. Joe Burrow took a lot of chances with him, and the 50-50 turning into 80-20, that's what puts him at the top of his class. Yes, the speed [is impressive], but the ability to trust. He uses his frame at 200 pounds to hold DBs off and then at the last minute, he's going up in the air and stabbing the ball out of the air."

Jaylen-Waddle-2560

School: Alabama | Year: Jr. | Ht: 5-foot-10 | Wt: 180 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
WR2 WR2 WR3 WR2 WR2

2020 stats: 6 games; 28 receptions for 591 yards (21.1 avg.) and 4 TD; 4.7 receptions per game; 98.5 receiving yards per game

Alabama Pro Day results: Waddle did not work out.

Field stretcher: Eleven of Waddle's 20 total career touchdowns (17 receiving, 2 punt returns and 1 kickoff return) were 50 or more yards, so it's not a surprise that NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein drew a comparison to Kansas City's Tyreek Hill. Zierlein wrote Waddle is a "thrilling, game-breaking talent who will come into the league as one of the fastest receivers to ever play the game."

DeVonta-Smith-2560

School: Alabama | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot | Wt: 170 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
WR3 WR3 WR1 WR3 WR3

2020 stats: 13 games; 117 receptions for 1,856 yards (15.9 avg.) and 23 TD; 9.0 receptions per game; 142.8 receiving yards per game; 11 punt returns for 237 yards (21.5 avg.) and 1 TD

Alabama Pro Day results: Smith did not work out.

Johnson's Recon: "When you look at Devonta Smith, the weight, 170 pounds, I think that's what everybody is going to talk about, but when you watch the film, he runs a lot of slants and under routes. He's taking a beating, getting hit, spun around. You look at the Tennessee game, he gets completely de-cleated but he jumps back up, so he has that football toughness, and then his route running. You watch the routes, he's very patient at the line of scrimmage and doesn't let a DB in press [coverage] stifle him and make him second guess what he's going to do. When he's in the open field, he understands coverage. … He understands his steps and the footwork, and he's always chest over knees and knees over toes. I have rarely seen him slip or come out wrong on a route."

Kadarius-Toney-2560

School: Florida | Year: Sr. | Ht: 6-foot | Wt: 193 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
WR4 WR4 WR4 WR8 WR4

2020 stats: 11 games; 70 receptions for 984 yards (14.1 avg.) and 10 TD; 6.4 receptions per game; 89.5 receiving yards per game; 19 rush attempts for 161 yards (8.5 avg.) and 1 TD; 11 punt returns for 139 yards (12.6 avg.) and 1 TD

Florida Pro Day results: Toney was clocked with running the 40 in 4.38 seconds, and his vertical jump was measured at 39.5 inches.

Johnson's Recon: "His catch radius isn't as wide as some of these guys, but he does go up and catch the ball when it's there. Florida runs a lot of the underneath routes and quick slants. They wanted to get the ball in his hands on jet sweeps, so he doesn't have a full route tree, per se. Florida receivers have never had comebacks, digs and all of that other stuff. They kind of have their offense of crossing routes, 'Let's use our speed and out-leverage the coverage and just outrun you,' and that's what he does. They create confusion and line up a lot of crisscross routes. In the NFL, is that going to convert over? Probably not, but what he did, he was pure speed. He can take the top off. You can send him deep out of the slot, take the safety out of the picture and have Adam Thielen or Justin Jefferson come underneath on a drag route or a dig route. And then, if the safety gets nosey like Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu [did], Kadarius Toney is over the top. He's another guy that can return kicks and punts, so he adds that element to his game."

Terrace-Marshall,-Jr.-2560

School: LSU | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-3 | Wt: 205 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
WR5 Unranked WR6 WR6 WR5

2020 stats: 7 games; 48 receptions for 731 yards (15.2 avg.) and 10 TD; 6.9 receptions per game; 104.4 receiving yards per game

LSU Pro Day results: Marshall was clocked with running the 40 in 4.40 seconds. He also flexed in the bench press with 19 reps of 225 pounds.

Impressive trio: Marshall's 13 receiving touchdowns when he helped LSU win the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship would have been a school record but wound up ranking third on that squad. Chase led the Tigers with 20, and Jefferson turned in 18 during that historically great season. Marshall totaled 10 touchdowns in the first seven games of 2020 before opting out the rest of the way.

Rashod-Bateman2560

School: Minnesota | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot | Wt: 190 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
WR7 WR5 WR8 WR4 WR6

2020 stats: 5 games; 36 receptions for 472 yards (13.1 avg.) and 2 TD; 7.2 receptions per game; 94.4 receiving yards per game

Minnesota Pro Day results: Bateman's time in the 40 was clocked at 4.43 seconds, and his vertical jump was measured at 36 inches.

Johnson's Recon: "This kid is 6-2, and a lot of people didn't understand — speed was the question. Then, you turn the film on, I don't know why speed was in question. This kid has a burst in him, but he runs kind of patiently. He has long legs so he's not that quick, explosive [player]. He has more of that Randy Moss stride, where all of a sudden, you look up and he's gone. … You can say whatever you want, but the kid put it on film and with his T-shirt and shorts in front of scouts with a stopwatch. When you see Rashod Bateman, the high-ball fade, he's able to go up and get it. The ability to block down the field, that size, that's what he adds as well."

[Elijah Moore pic]

School: Mississippi | Year: Jr. | Ht: 5-foot-10 | Wt: 178 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
WR6 Unranked WR5 WR5 WR8

2020 stats: 8 games; 86 receptions for 1,193 yards (13.9 avg.) and 8 TD; 10.8 receptions per game; 149.1 receiving yards per game; 14 rushes for 64 yards (4.6 avg.)

Mississippi Pro Day results: Moore's 40 time was 4.35 seconds. He benched 225 pounds 17 times and turned in a vertical leap of 36 inches.

Stacking stats: Moore led FBS in receptions and receiving yards per game. He opted out of the remainder of 2020 after playing eight games.

Tutu-Atwell-2560

School: Louisville | Year: Jr. | Ht: 5-foot-9 | Wt: 155 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
Unranked Unranked WR7 Unranked WR10

2020 stats: 9 games; 46 receptions for 625 yards (13.6 avg.) and 7 TD; 5.1 receptions per game; 69.4 receiving yards per game

Louisville Pro Day results: Atwell's 40 time was clocked at 4.39 seconds, and his vertical was measured at 33 inches.

Gophers tie: Atwell's father of the same name played for the Minnesota Gophers from 1994-97. He set the school record for career receiving yards (2,640), which held until Johnson topped it with 2,931 from 1998-2001. Atwell still ranks fourth, and Johnson ranks third in the category. The younger Atwell's three seasons with Louisville landed him ninth in Cardinals history for receiving yards (2,303).

Rondale-Moore-2560

School: Purdue | Year: Jr. | Ht: 5-foot-7 | Wt: 181 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
Unranked Unranked Unranked WR7 WR7

2020 stats: 3 games; 35 receptions for 270 yards (7.7 avg.) and 0 TD; 11.7 receptions per game; 90.0 receiving yards per game; 6 rushes for 32 yards and 1 TD

Purdue's Pro Day results: Moore's vertical leap was measured at 42.5 inches, and his time in the 40 was clocked at 4.32 seconds.

Johnson's Recon: "Rondale Moore is extremely explosive. He can return kicks and punts, run jet sweeps, can line up in the backfield. Purdue put him everywhere. You look at downfield running, he makes guys look silly trying to keep up with him just because of speed. He's a true 4.3 guy, has track speed and squats about 550 pounds. … Teams are scared of him catching the ball. Teams kicked away from him. I know the [in] Gophers game, for sure. Every time he touched the ball, that's what [Gophers Head Coach] P.J. Fleck brought up: 'Everybody has to have an eye on where Rondell Moore is.' "

dyami-brown-2560

School: North Carolina | Year: Jr. | Ht: 6-foot-1 | Wt: 189 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
Unranked Unranked Unranked WR9 WR12

2020 stats: 11 games; 55 receptions for 1,099 yards (20.0 avg.) and 8 TD; 5.0 receptions per game; 99.9 receiving yards per game

North Carolina Pro Day results: Brown's 40 time was 4.45 seconds, and he benched 225 pounds 18 times.

Go deep: Pro Football Focus's Mike Renner noted that Brown's "ridiculous 17.1" average depth of route over his three seasons with the Tar Heels was the greatest career average for any of Renner's top 10 in this year's class. Bateman's 13.7 ranks second among the group.

Tylan-Wallace-2560

School: Oklahoma State | Year: Sr. | Ht: 5-foot-11 | Wt: 194 pounds

Table inside Article
Daniel Jeremiah Bucky Brooks Mel Kiper, Jr. Pro Football Focus Dane Brugler
Unranked Unranked Unranked Unranked WR13

2020 stats: 10 games; 59 receptions for 922 yards (15.6 avg.) and 6 TD; 5.9 receptions per game; 92.2 receiving yards per game

Oklahoma State Pro Day results: Wallace was clocked at 4.50 seconds in the 40, and his vertical jump was measured at 33 inches.

Up in the air: Zierlein and Brugler both noted Wallace's proclivity for making contested catches. Brugler wrote: "With his ability to play through contact, he is a fun player with the ball in the air. However, the difficulty level of winning contested catches in the NFL compared to the Big 12 will be substantial. Overall, Wallace has only average size and speed, but he is a route technician with the play strength, body control and catch radius to make plays at every level of the field. He projects as an NFL starter if he stays healthy."

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