With the steady regression of Adam Thielen, the Vikings offense is going to need someone who will eventually have to take the spot to be the secondary receiver behind Justin Jefferson. In the 2020 NFL draft with the 176th pick the Minnesota Vikings selected KJ Osborn. The young receiver has established himself as the third receiving option on the Vikings offense after an impressive 2021 season with the Vikings. Soon, we will have to take a bigger step into becoming a top option on this Minnesota offense.
Signs of hope
According to Pro Football Reference KJ Osborn recorded 655 yards, 7 touchdowns, with 50 receptions. In comparison to Adam Thielen stats they are almost identical.
While Thielen is 31 years old, he is still seen as an elite second option to have on any team. With Osborn being able to somewhat match his stats as a third option is amazing and shows hope for Osborn’s future with the team. In 2021 the Vikings ran a three wide set more than they did in the past. This set forces defenses to shift towards Thielen and Jefferson, leaving Osborn open to have all the fun he wants. If rookie head coach, Kevin O’ Connell, continues to line all three of the receivers out wide, Osborn will continue to produce in his slot role.
In his tenure with the Vikings, recently fired coach Mike Zimmer rarely sent Osborn downfield as much as his other two counterparts. Instead, Osborn ran more dig and out routes than anything else.
Osborn’s physical qualities are appealing as well. He also has pretty good hands, and is elite when under pressure. In the game against the Carolina Panthers, Osborn had the game winning touchdown, managing to secure a catch near the boundary, with a ball placed at his knees, and the defender draped behind him.
One of my biggest concerns for Osborn is his ability to create separation and make defenders miss after the catch. I know not every receiver can be a route running guru like former Viking Stefon Diggs, or have the ability to make people miss like Cincinatti receiver Jamarr Chase, but if you watch his highlight plays, he has nearly no separation from defenders. This inability to create separation could obscure Osborn’s production in the future