It’s that time of year again where most football fans enter hibernation until draft talks heat up even more come spring. The Vikings have multiple holes that need to be filled before the start of the 2021 season and they’re going to have a good amount of draft picks for the second consecutive year.
The wide receiver position might not be the most pressing need for the Vikings, but it’s certainly a position that needs to get addressed at some point of the draft. It would make the most sense for the Vikings to use a mid-round pick on an athletic receiver that could also help them out in the return game.
Jaelon Darden out of North Texas is the perfect example of that, and he should be a player teams are willing to take a chance on on day three of the draft.
Despite standing at 5 feet 9 inches and 174 pounds, Darden could be one of the twitchiest receivers in the entire class. He is great after the catch, utilizes explosiveness in and out of his breaks and could be the ultimate gadget player in the Vikings’ offense.
This clip reminded me of vintage Percy Harvin, and I honestly like the comparison between the two. Although Harvin was coming out of a much bigger school, Darden flashes a lot of the same capabilities that the Vikings were able to utilize with Harvin back in the day.
Darden is undersized but he had one of the most productive seasons out of any receiver in his class. He finished second with 19 touchdowns behind only DeVonta Smith and third in receiving yards with 1,190. He only played in nine games, four less than the Heisman Trophy winner that led him in both categories.
He did play at a smaller school, but so did Adam Thielen and that project worked out just fine for the Vikings. Darden and Thielen are both very different players, but Darden could also come into Minnesota and make a name for himself on special teams before finding a dominant role in the offense.
The Vikings have one of the best duos in the entire NFL with Thielen and 2020 breakout receiver Justin Jefferson, but Thielen will be entering the 2021 season as a 31-year-old. It’s likely he still has some good years left in him but finding someone to take over the WR3 spot and learn behind him makes a lot of sense ahead of the draft.
There are plenty of different directions that the Vikings could go in the 2021 NFL Draft, but they will have to address the receiver position at some point. A lot of things can change between now and the draft, and the reports of the Vikings having interest in Keelan Cole could change any plans on drafting a receiver come April.
Stay tuned for more 2021 NFL Draft player profiles in the upcoming months on KFAN.com.