Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Vikings Look to Commission Jordan Addison's Artistry as a Route Runner

EAGAN, Minn. — To Jordan Addison, running routes on a football grid is like an artist guiding paint brush strokes across canvas.

Addison's realization of that, along with advice from his brother that he needed the ball in his hands, prompted him to devote his attention toward playing receiver after spending previous time as a quarterback and cornerback.

The dream of making it to the NFL, which he first began at age 3, became a realization Thursday night when Minnesota selected him with the No. 23 pick of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Addison arrived at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center Friday and held his new purple No. 3 jersey up for a photo op before describing more about his game and love for football to Twin Cities media members.

"When I'm running my routes, I like to look at it like I'm an artist and I'm going out there painting pictures," Addison said. "I just fell in love with the craft, and I feel like that's what's helping me succeed."

View photos of USC wide receiver Jordan Addison who was selected No. 23 overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Addison said watching fellow Maryland native and former Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs brought about the artistic vision of the game.

"Just the way he ran routes and his mindset about everything just kind of shifted my perspective because I was a quarterback at first," Addison said. "So coming out of youth league, I played quarterback, and then I started looking up to them guys, and that's when I switched my position to receiver in high school, and then I never looked back."

His appreciation for playing the position starts long before the ball arrives.

"First, you've got to get off the line of scrimmage and then you've got to win your route," Addison said. "It's just a lot more that goes into it that people don't really understand, but I take pride in everything, every little detail about being a receiver, and I love it."

Addison was excited about the possibilities explained to him during his Top 30 visit to Minnesota. The Vikings were the final team he visited before the draft.

Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell were impressed by the visit and told Addison they were going to be interested if he was on the board while the team was on the clock.

Other teams Addison visited said something similar, "But this is the one that — this is where I'm supposed to be at. They believe in me, and I'm just glad to be here."

Adofo-Mensah said the pick "was the culmination of a lot of effort from a lot of great people: our scouting staff, our coaching staff, operations, everybody in this building."

"I'm excited to get Jordan to that [receivers] room," Adofo-Mensah added. "He's got the work ethic, character, attention to detail that fits in that room. That's a pace set by Coach [Keenan] McCardell, J.J. (Justin Jefferson), K.J. [Osborn]. They've got a great group, and he's going to be a great addition to it."

O'Connell introduced Addison Friday afternoon, describing the team's excitement to add the receiver.

"We talked a little bit about last night, not only about the skill set, the person, the player, but the more you spend time with him, the drive that he has to be great, and it's already set in," O'Connell said. "He's already asking for the playbook and 'What are we going to be doing here or there? How are you planning on using me?'

"All those things are things we started talking about on our Top 30 visit, so a credit to Kwesi and his staff for obviously going back a long way and identifying a player of this caliber and getting him in our building early, letting us form those relationships early," O'Connell said. "Now we can hit the ground running. This day is about Jordan. It's for Jordan and his family, and we just really want to celebrate adding a player of his caliber to our football team."

It will be two weeks before Vikings rookies are scheduled to participate in their minicamp. After that, they'll join Minnesota's returning players for the voluntary offseason program that culminates in a mandatory minicamp in June.

Addison said he watched the 2022 Vikings "a lot throughout the season."

"Seeing how they use their pieces, get their playmakers the ball and just move all their receivers around, let them run a lot of different routes," Addison said. "Just as a receiver coming in, that's what you want to see."

The Vikings have described how Addison's natural abilities come to the forefront. He will offer the ability to play inside, outside and perhaps even line up in the backfield akin to the way Minnesota incorporated Jefferson last season.

NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah said he believes Addison is the "best route runner" in this year's draft and it showed at Pittsburgh during his first two college seasons, as well as at USC last fall.

"When the ball goes up in the air, he has another gear," Jeremiah said. "Those big-time receivers have that ability. They're running at one speed, and once they see that ball, they can get into a different gear. He did that at USC.

"He understands coverage," Jeremiah added. "He understands where the vulnerabilities are. I think he's incredibly smart, and then after the catch, he's slippery and elusive. He's tough to get on the ground. Kevin O'Connell is going to love this dude."

View photos WR Jordan Addison being selected as the Vikings 2023 first round draft pick in Kansas City.

Vikings analysts offered their initial impressions of Addison.

Ben Leber said: "I love this dude because he's twitchy, he's fast, he can get down the field. He has 4.4 speed."

The former Vikings linebacker also said Addison is clearly "football smart."

"He's off the charts when they say his intelligence of Xs and Os, so you're going to find a guy that's quick, twitchy, can get down the field, get that separation, pull those safeties away from Justin Jefferson," Leber said. "Justin Jefferson hopefully will not see a lot of double teams now that Jordan Addison is on the field."

Former Vikings linebacker Pete Bercich said the addition of Addison could create more opportunities for explosive plays by Jefferson by forcing defenses to move away approaches they used last season.

"When defenses decide to do that, because that's the trend, that's what they're going to try to do, you've got to have a guy on the other side of the field that can make a defense pay, so explosive plays are what [the Vikings] need out of Addison," Bercich said. "[The Vikings] need him to get behind a defense. He also has to be able to beat the second-best corner consistently. A great option."

Ron Johnson, former Gophers standout receiver, projected that Addison might do most of his damage from the slot.

"He's not really an outside receiver, so they're going to have to figure out where he fits in this offense, but he's a true slot receiver," Johnson said. "Speed, twitch and can catch the ball in traffic. At 5-11, not the biggest, but he has the speed to create separation, and you'll see a lot of big plays."

While Paul Charchian said the Vikings using their first-round pick on a receiver could be viewed as a bit of a "luxury pick," he also said Addison brings "some special traits."

"He can run from the slot, he can run outside, but I think he's really well-suited to the slot," Charchian said. "There's a lot of talk about how Addison is going to take heat off Justin Jefferson, but it can work the other direction as well.

"If teams put extra effort into stopping Jefferson, you get 1-on-1 coverage for Addison, he's so slippery and elusive and he can really be a devasting receiver and can help you after the catch," Charchian said. "He's not going to break tackles, but he knows all the angles and has got enough speed to be slippery and to get away on longer runs. Jordan Addison is a fascinating pick for Minnesota that's going to be very difficult to scheme against for opposing defenses because of all the different ways they can beat you."

Paul Allen noted a 35-yard touchdown pass to Addison last season against UCLA when the receiver lined up in the backfield and ran a go route down the right sideline for an easy catch.

"It is a work of art," Allen said. "I would imagine perhaps the happiest individual outside of Kevin O'Connell and maybe Kirk Cousins to have a receiver the caliber of Addison on the Minnesota Vikings is Justin Jefferson. If you want to double team Justin Jefferson the way he was doubled last year, what are you going to do with this first rounder? What are you going to do with K.J.? What are you going to do with T.J.?

"I'm never negative when you take the identity of your team, which is the Vikings offense, and you amplify it and make it better," Allen added.

As a guest with Allen and Charchian on Friday's 9 to Noon show on KFAN, O'Connell described more about Addison's potential impact.

"I really think some things stand out in his evaluation: how he consistently separates at every level of the defense," O'Connell said. "That goes into route running, technique, fundamentals, skill sets, the quickness, the burst, the suddenness to do all that at a pretty high level of college football, playing in an offense where he was asked to do a lot with the ball after the catch and then his ability to win in some of those 1-on-1 situations down the field, third down at the chains.

"He demonstrated not only the ability to do that at USC, but I went back further and studied him when Pittsburgh was really using him a bit more in the slot, a bit more in stacks or bunches, a little different variation of offense there when you're catching balls from [Steelers 2022 first-round pick] Kenny Pickett," O'Connell said. "There's just so much to his game, but then when you also think about pairing him with Justin Jefferson or K.J. Osborn or T.J. Hockenson and working within the combinations of our offense. That's when the excitement comes into play because you know he's going to be able to run all angles of the cut. He's going to be great after the catch and complements really well with the best receiver in football over there in No. 18."