The Minnesota Vikings finished the 2013 NFL season ranked 13th overall in total offense. While the Vikings ranked eighth overall in rushing, the team ranked in the bottom third in the NFL in passing for the fourth-consecutive season. The development of a host of young wide receivers on the Vikings’ roster will play a key role improving what has become a consistently subpar passing attack.
Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson garner most of the wide receiver headlines in Minnesota, but third-year wideout Jarius Wright will also play an important role in the success of the Vikings’ offense this season.
The Vikings selected Wright in the fourth round of 2012 draft. Since then, Wright has recorded 48 receptions, 744 receiving yards and five touchdown receptions for the Vikings. Wright had arguably the biggest game of his career during a Week 17 matchup against the Green Bay Packers in 2012, when he caught three passes for 90 yards and touchdown, helping the Vikings to their first playoff appearance since 2009.
While Wright is considered undersized for a wide receiver standing at 5-foot-10 and weighing 180 pounds, he has proven to be an above-average route-runner with elite speed. As a result, Wright has been able to perform well both as a slot receiver and on the outside, beating opposing defensive backs over the top for big gains.
The 2014 campaign could prove to be a breakout season for Wright, given the presence of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, an improved quarterback situation and an increased role in the offense. Along with attempting to establish an increased role in the Vikings’ offense, Wright has also been involved in a competition to be Patterson’s backup on kick returns.
Wright will almost certainly begin the season as the starting slot receiver, a position that Turner has a history of having his quarterback target often. With Jennings and Patterson set to begin the season as the Vikings’ top receivers on the outside, Wright will mostly compete against Jerome Simpson for the role of No. 3 wide receiver. Wright should see the majority of his time in the slot, but could also see time on the outside in support of Jennings and Patterson.
Expect Wright to assert himself as the top option for the Vikings in the slot during training camp and the preseason, and put together the best offensive season in his young NFL career.