Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are among a handful of extremely successful late-round (or in the case of Thielen, no-round) draft picks.
According to NFL.com's Tom Pelissero, seven of the league's top 20 receivers were late round (5-7) picks or went undrafted altogether. Pelissero wrote:
Three or four games is a small sample, of course. One big game and you're on the list. […] First- and, to a lesser degree, second-round picks are a majority among the statistical leaders every season. And every position is going to generate hidden gems who end up being more productive than higher picks.
Still, fast starts by the likes of Thielen and Diggs and the ascension of [Antonio] Brown, Seattle's Doug Baldwin (undrafted in 2011) and others into difference-makers echoes the thrust of [this] question: How do some future star receivers slip in the draft, even as NFL teams are spreading out and throwing the ball more than ever in recent years?
Minnesota drafted Diggs in the fifth round (146th overall) in 2015; since then, he has started 24 of 30 games played and recorded 158 catches for 2,014 yards and 11 touchdowns. Thielen, who played Division II football at Minnesota State University, Mankato, signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Since then, he's gone from practice squad participant, to special teams standout, to starting wide receiver. Thielen has started 14 games since the start of last season, a span during which he has made 93 catches for 1,325 yards and five touchdowns.
Pelissero spoke with NFL executives and scouts about the trend and said the "most common answer from a macro perspective was supply and demand."
He went on to explain that an uptick of spread offenses at the collegiate level grant exposure to a higher number of receivers across the country, thus widening the pool.
"Guys that used to be corners and safeties that are great athletes now are receivers in college," a team's general manager told Pelissero. "Back in the day, where there might have been like 15 [legitimate receiver prospects] in the draft, there's like 35 [now] that have draftable grades."
The number of receivers drafted has remained relatively static over the past two decades -- between 28 and 37 every year since 1998. So, if the talent pool has expanded even incrementally, the odds are better of hitting on a stud late in the draft or undrafted free agency.
Kai Forbath's missed FG against Lions breaks streak
Kai Forbath entered Sunday's game against Detroit having never missed a field goal in Purple.
After making 21 consecutive field goals since signing with the Vikings in November of 2016, Forbath attempted a 39-yarder against the Lions that hit the right-hand bar of uprights.
Chris Tomasson of the *Pioneer Press *spoke with Forbath following the game about his miss.
Forbath said the kick initially "felt good going off my foot" and that he planned to study the film to further assess what went wrong.
"I just [have] to go in and make that every time I go on the field," Forbath told Tomasson. "I've got to make kicks when my team needs it. The streak ends with a kick that was makeable, and I've made so many times. It's frustrating, but I'll start a new streak next week.''