The Minnesota Vikings are clearly one of the most surprising teams in the NFL through six weeks, with a 4-2 record placing them right in the thick of things in the NFC North. But their offense has clearly lacked a downfield threat at wide receiver, as Jerome Simpson has only played extensively in one game so far this season due to a three-game suspension and more recently a back injury.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has been fairly conservative when throwing the ball, at least in part to Percy Harvin being by far the team’s best wide receiver and the fact he works primarily out of the slot. But the other factor is an inability of receivers like Michael Jenkins, Stephen Burton and Devin Aromashodu to win against opposing defenders on deeper routes, which forces Ponder to rely on shorter passes to keep the chains moving.
Aromashodu has not been incredibly productive thus far in his career, with his career-high in both catches (26) and yards (468) coming in 2011 in his first season with the Vikings. But he has flashed some physical tools at times, and seems to have the size (6’2″, 202 lbs.) to be a least a good red zone target for Ponder. One of the areas offensively the Vikings need to improve is in the red zone, as they missed an opportunity to take a decisive lead in Week 6 against the Washington Redskins by settling for three field goals on three red zone trips in the first quarter.
Despite his recent assertion that he is healthy, Simpson simply can not be counted on to be the deep threat the Vikings thought he could be right now. Aromashodu has a significant role on special teams, but he only saw the field offensively on 50 of 84 snaps last week against the Redskins and it may be time for that percentage to increase.
No one will confuse Aromashodu with Randy Moss in his prime or anoint him one of the league’s best wide receivers, but there is virtually no risk in putting him on the field more in an attempt to see what he can offer in an increased role. Especially with the other available options, including Simpson, not being particularly exciting.