The Numbers Game! Analyzing the Vikings roster one Jersey number at a time! This time, we looked at numbers 11-20:
11 - Laquon Treadwell -- Along with the audio below, you'll hear that there is skepticism as to whether Laquon will crack the final roster before the 2019 season kicks off. The bit just isn't working. He had a chance with Norv in 2016, Pat Shurmur in 2017, John DeFilippo in 2018....and it just isn't working. As a matter of fact, speaking of Pat Shurmur, his entire Giants receiving corps appears to be either injured or suspended at this point. They might call up David Tyree before they call on Laquon(that's melodramatic, I know. Sorry.). I've rooted for Laquon, he's not a bad guy, but the evolution you'd expect from a professional in this league hasn't shown itself through 3 seasons. He finally scored his first touchdown last season in Green Bay, so that was exciting! It'll cost the team about as much to cut him as it would to keep him, so not sure how or if the money factors in. Some scathing remarks from Mike Zimmer about the "young receivers" recently, maybe being guys like rookies Bisi Johnson, Dillon Mitchell, Davion Davis, etc., that they need to get their "rear ends in gear." Does that lend some hope for Laquon finding his way to a roster spot? He can certainly play special teams and be a 4th or 5th receiving option.
12 - Chad Beebe -- Ahhhhh, the highly coveted THIRD RECEIVER position. What I like about Chad is that he does everything at full speed, is polishing the routes and is really working himself into being a pro. He was promoted to the active roster in week 9 against the Lions, had 3 catches in the game, and then had another grab at Solider Field against the Bears out of the bye. But that's it. Just the 4 catches last season because of a hamstring injury that put him back on the shelf for several weeks. Certainly a lot of optimism about him growing into a regular contributor for this offense, as an inside option. I think the true "third receiver," though, will be Kyle Rudolph at the TE spot. Can't see how Chad isn't on the final 53.
13 - WR Jeff Badet -- Jeff might be the fastest guy on the team. Has trouble staying healthy enough to practice, and I just never hear anything about him, which is a bad thing for someone trying to splash and take a roster spot.
14 - Stefon Diggs -- Shocker, I think Stefon has an opportunity to make the team this year. Only thing I'd say about Stefon is that his average reception in 2018 was just 10 yards. I want to see more explosive plays in this offense, which would hopefully mean that number goes up. Absolute stud, battling and winning contested catches. He hasn't played all 16 games in any of his 4 seasons, but overall has stayed relatively healthy. 9 TDs in 2018, let's see him hit double digits, along with another 100+ catch/1000+ yard year of production!
15 - WR Brandon Zylstra -- Brandon had just 1 catch for 23 yards last season, in a blowout win at the Jets. For now, making plays on special teams remains the primary focus for Zylstra seeing playing time. The team drafted both Olabisi Johnson & Dillon Mitchell in the hopes of adding talent and depth to the WR position, which puts pressure on Zylstra to make himself valuable to the team. Add in former Bronco Jordan Taylor as well. In doing a count for the number of receivers on the final roster, I think you'll see Diggs/Thielen & Beebe for sure. But then who? I think Zylstra will be fighting for and ultimately will win a spot on the roster, over Mitchell & Taylor.
16 - WR Davion Davis -- I watched a bunch of his youtube highlights when I heard he joined the team because I'm not exactly the biggest Sam Houston State rube. He can make plays. More than 225 catches and 3200 yards in college with 40 TDs. And hey, Josh McCown went to Sam Houston State...look at how long he stuck around the NFL! Can't say he doesn't have an opportunity with this nondescript group of pass catchers, but he'll be fighting uphill the whole way.
17 - WR Dillon Mitchell -- Flashed a bunch at Oregon in college. Elite athletic ability, but raw. Real raw. Classic example of being faster and better than your opponent, without having to master the minutiae. The minutiae in this case would be technique, footwork, route running, body leverage...the stuff that great receivers do in their sleep. As mentioned above, Zimmer kind of ripped into who he described as the "young receivers" recently and said they need to get their rear ends in gear. Without mentioning names, I'm assuming that Mitchell was one of those young receivers. I think that guys like Dillon and Davion, Olabisi Johnson, #18 Jordan Taylor, alllll these guys need to knock on Adam Thielen's door and beg for instruction. Ask a million questions, don't stop looking at the playbook, humble themselves. "How do I get better?" Add precision to Mitchell's god-given talents and you have an NFL receiver. Not there yet.
18 - WR Jordan Taylor -- Played in 26 games for the Broncos in 2016-17, then was out all 2018 after hip surgery. Vikings picked him up and here he is. 2 TDs in 2016. Intriguing size at 6'5", but I don't really know whether he can play or not. I've seen him making some impressive grabs in camp so far, but that's all I got for you. He's like many of the others listed above...grinding for a spot.
19 - Adam Thielen -- So pumped to watch what might be the best WR duo in the NFL this year. Thielen's historic start to 2018 went south in week 9 when Diggs was out with injury and the Lions finally kept Thielen under 100 yards receiving, after Adam eclipsed the century mark the previous 8 weeks. He only had one 100 yard game the rest of the year, actually(vs Packers), and saw his number of targets diminish down the stretch as well. Playing hurt? Kirk's production dwindling later in year? I'm not interested in the "why" as much as I'm just excited to see him back out there helping this team win games in 2019. Ended the year with 1300+ yards and 9 scores. Deservedly got paid. Like Diggs, let's see him get 10+ endzone dances this time around.
20 - Mackensie Alexander -- HEY! A non-wide receiver! The 4th year cornerback had his best season in the NFL in 2018 after a couple "eh" campaigns in Purple. Mac really solidified the slot corner position, and my favorite part of it all was that he tallied 4 sacks as well. Given the depth of the defensive backfield, it's absolutely imperative that Mac follows it up with a stellar 2019. He should also be motivated by the fact that it's the last year of his contract, so his production this year will either add or subtract dollars come offseason. Stay healthy, play well, get paid.
LISTEN: Below, PA/#92Noon's on-air analysis on this group!