In 2014, with a rookie quarterback forced into action by injury, the Minnesota Vikings were looking for someone to emerge as a reliable pass catcher. Charles Johnson became Teddy Bridgewater‘s No. 1 target late in that season, with 25 receptions for 415 yards over the final seven games, which brought expectations for more in 2015.
But that did not come to fruition, as Johnson had just nine receptions in 11 games with a rib injury that sidelined him at times and surely limited his snap count. Now we’ve gotten more clarity, with Johnson’s acknowledgement that he had a broken rib originally suffered in Week 3 against the San Diego Chargers, and he did not feel like himself again until Week 8.
A broken rib should not be dismissed as an excuse for low production, but at the same time having a fully healthy Johnson does not change Minnesota’s situation at wide receiver looking toward next season. Stefon Diggs deserves a prominent role, and others are in the mix along with Johnson (Jarius Wright, Adam Thielen, Cordarrelle Patterson), but any draft plan that includes adding a potential No. 1 wide receiver (Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, etc.) should remain the same for the Vikings.
I was skeptical of Johnson’s breakout potential heading into last season, and I still think he would have proven me right at full health over a full 16 games. Johnson’s skill set has a place in the Vikings’ offense, particularly if he can be the deep threat Mike Wallace was incapable of being, and the rapport he built with Bridgewater should not be disregarded. But Johnson is not a star in the making, or even close to carrying No. 1 wide receiver potential, and the Vikings should consider any notable production he offers a bonus.