EAGAN, Minn. — From preps in Maryland to college at Pittsburgh and Southern California; whether lined up outside or moved in to the slot; running deep routes or working underneath, football just seems to come natural to Jordan Addison.
That's shown in his ability to separate from defenders, make catches and do damage with the ball in his hands.
So naturally, when a player named Jordan was on the board when the Vikings were picking at No. 23, Minnesota opted for the receiver, who wore No. 3 at Pitt and with USC – by the way, after receiving the blessing of former Trojans QB Carson Palmer to unretire the jersey last season.
Addison was in Kansas City for the opening night of the 2023 NFL Draft, celebrating with family members as his name was called. He then joined a video conference with Twin Cities media members, opening by thanking Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Head Coach Kevin O'Connell and "and the whole organization for believing in me and sitting down at those tables and fighting for my name."
"I appreciate everybody," said Addison, who is looking forward to joining a receivers group that includes three-time Pro Bowler Justin Jefferson, drafted at No. 22 overall just three years ago.
"I'm really excited to get to work with him. He's a great receiver," Addison said. "Everything he did at LSU and with the Minnesota Vikings was just special. I'm just looking forward to learning from him."
Addison recorded 59 catches for 875 yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games during his lone season with the Trojans.
That followed an impressive two seasons at Pittsburgh in which he totaled 160 catches for 2,259 yards and 21 touchdowns. Playing with Steelers 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett for both seasons with the Panthers, Addison in 2021 became the first Pitt receiver to win the Biletnikoff award since Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., in 2003. He totaled 100 receptions for 1,593 yards and 17 scores.
View photos WR Jordan Addison being selected as the Vikings 2023 first round draft pick in Kansas City.
Adofo-Mensah said Addison's natural abilities show up time and time again.
"Kevin has a phrase he likes to use a lot: 'It's natural to him,' " Adofo-Mensah said. "We watch a player where we can tell football just makes sense to him. Jordan is somebody that does that. Obviously, a Biletnikoff winner as a true sophomore, separation sense and space, different things, it's natural to him.
"An incredible, really good football player," Adofo-Mensah added. "Quiet, hardworking, elevates those around him. He fits in our culture really well, so we're excited to add him and really excited to see him tomorrow and get going on what we're trying to build."
View photos of Vikings WR Jordan Addison posing for photos after he was drafted in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Vikings hosted Addison during one of their Top 30 visits, and he described the experience as "a lot of fun."
"Just getting in there, meeting everybody, talking about [receivers coach Keenan McCardell]. We were joking, laughing, getting our work done," Addison said. "Getting our plays, getting our install in. It was just a great visit, to me, and I'm glad I get the chance to go back there and see what it's all about."
View photos of USC wide receiver Jordan Addison who was selected No. 23 overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins participated in the draft as a guest host for Bleacher Report's coverage.
"I think that he is a natural wide receiver," Cousins said after the selection. "I've played with some guys throughout the years who were great athletes, they could run well, they could jump well, but playing the position of wide receiver just didn't come naturally to him. And you'll always want that natural receiver over a great athlete – not to say he isn't a great athlete. But a guy who can attack the football with great hands, adjust to the ball well, run great routes, that's pretty exciting to be able to get that kind of polish right away when he shows up for [Organized Team Activity practices].
"We targeted Justin a lot last year, and for good reason: He's one of the elite receivers in football," Cousins added. "But this should help take some pressure off of him, along with K.J. Osborn and T.J. Hockenson. The more that we can divert coverage away from Justin, that's only going to help 'Jets' with his ability to wreck the game."
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 173 pounds, Addison will be one of the lightest players on the roster.
But O'Connell said it's all about how a player best maximizes his tools.
"I think one thing I like to talk to our players about, I use the phrase, 'The game makes sense to you, where you're going to play that fast when you run 4.55 [in the 40-yard dash]. You're that sudden and you have the ability to play underneath yourself,' " O'Connell said.
"That can be a weapon, but you have to use it and understand you're being covered by really athletic people as well, so every blade of grass matters," O'Connell added. "When you can efficiently eat up grass and be in attack mode at the top of routes, whether you're at the short area, intermediate area or going down the field, the only thing that matters is your ability to understand the leverage, the technique, the coverage being applied, and then there's different tools you can go into your toolbox and use to defeat that coverage, and then it's, 'How you do it?' "
Asked how he offsets his size, he simply said, "Make plays. Catch the ball. Score touchdowns."
"I'm just going to add that explosiveness," Addison said. "I'm probably built a little bit different than the previous receivers [in Minnesota], so it's just gonna be a little bit different style of play that I'm going to bring."