The top of the offseason checklist for the Minnesota Vikings is littered with wide receiver issues, from the need to add talent to the position to the ongoing saga surrounding Percy Harvin. Of course if Harvin winds up being traded or stages a prolonged holdout the need to add wide receivers becomes even greater for Minnesota.
There should be plenty of wide receivers available for the Vikings in the early rounds of April’s draft, and it’s possible they will use their first round pick (23rd overall) on the position. The stretch run of the pre-draft evaluation period, starting in earnest with this week’s NFL Combine, will clearly be very important as general manager Rick Spielman and the rest of the front office form a list of wide receiver prospects to target.
One player that may land on the Vikings’ radar in April is Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who is coming off an excellent junior season with 82 receptions for 1,405 yards (fourth in FBS) and and ACC single-season record 18 touchdowns (second in FBS). He is widely considered one of the top wide receiver prospects available, and one recent mock draft has Hopkins going to the Vikings at number 23. Should they have interest in him?
Let’s see how Hopkins measures up at this point.
Weight: 200 lbs.
– Shows willingness to attack the ball in the air and get it at its highest point
– Exhibits good footwork, both in running routes and after the catch
– Has strong, reliable hands
– Exhibits excellent body control
– Shows excellent awareness and instincts after the catch
– Plays with toughness and shows deceptive strength
– Uses good short-area burst to create to create separation in his routes
– Is not overly big and strong, which may hurt him overall at the next level
– Lacks “track speed” and will likely struggle to shed NFL cornerbacks with his speed alone
– Is not considered a finished product; needs to improve his consistency
– Occasionally struggles with drops
The Combine will be an important opportunity for Hopkins to showcase himself for NFL teams, and a good performance could solidify him as a late first-round pick. Despite lacking ideal size for such a role, his overall skill set may allow him to make an impact as a reliable red zone weapon immediately as a rookie. The Vikings could certainly use a wide receiver with that kind of ability, as a lack of proficiency in the red zone has helped hold back their offense over the last couple years. If Hopkins continues to improve as he did during his college career, he could wind up being one of the hidden gems in this year’s class regardless of position.
NFL Comparison: Reggie Wayne
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.