Minnesota Vikings Draft Prospect Spotlight: Kayshon Boutte

Although it would be easy to overreact and dive right into another offensive linemen spotlight after the overall poor play of the unit in the beatdown of a loss, we’ll take a different route. Although the skill positions seem to be all but locked down, with receivers in Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn, running backs like Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, and the explosive Kene Nwangwu, and tight ends in T.J. Hockenson and Irv Smith Jr, the Vikings seemingly have no offensive skill position holes. Not to mention Captain Kirk Cousins being locked up to a lucrative 35 million dollar contract through 2023. Barring an injury, we won’t see a different QB trotting out for the Vikings, rookie or veteran, next year. Remember the aforementioned lack of holes in the skill positions? The Vikings will have a hole at receiver very soon, as Adam Thielen will be 33 before the start of the 2023 season, and although not to directly compare the two, because of there different play styles, post 32-year-old Julio Jones didn’t look nearly as explosive or produce nearly as much on the field as prior years. Not to mention there could be an obvious upgrade to K.J. Osborn, who doesn’t have either WR2 or WR3 role entirely locked down, even though he’s looked good in the opportunities he’s been given. Enter Kayshon Boutte, the uber-talented receiver out of LSU, who will be just 20 years old at the time of the draft.

So, who is Boutte and why haven’t you heard his name as much as you’d think you would for such an elite prospect. That would be because he only has 38 receptions for 388 yards, and for his projected top-10 status coming into the year, and a very good LSU team, is disappointing. It’s even more disappointing when you look at his 2021 stats, where he had 38 receptions for 509 yards and 9 touchdowns (as opposed to his single score this season), all in just 6 games. This is an even more impressive season when you see he had Myles Brennan at QB, who was switched for ASU transfer Jayden Daniels this offseason, a large part in LSU’s much improved 9-2 record and 5th in the nation ranking, as opposed to the disappointing ‘21 season. Boutte also showed extremely promising flashes, with 2021 games against teams like UCLA and Auburn, where he totaled 9 receptions, 148 yards, 3 touchdowns and 6 receptions, 127 yards and a score, respectively. Finally, we can’t talk about Kayshon Boutte without mentioning his freshman year 14 receptions, 308 yards, and TD trifecta performance against Mississippi. Boutte has even flashed that potential this year, with a 6 reception, 115 yard performance against a good Florida team, earlier in this ‘22 season. However he just hasn’t found his footing in this new-look offense, with sophomore Malik Nabers taking over WR1 duties, senior Jaray Jenkins being a red zone target magnet, and Jayden Daniels prominent rushing role in the offense (even being the teams leading rusher, by 250 yards). Safe to say in most NFL offenses, especially the Vikings, he won’t have to worry about such a heavy rushing focused QB, and would be able to sit comfortably and dominate the WR3/4 role for a year or so, before inevitably becoming the WR2 or 3 in the already-potent offense. For as long as Justin Jefferson plays, he will have the luxury not many receivers would, of having so much of the defenses attention already focused on a teammate, that he will have many opportunities throughout his young career to make big plays and become a reliable weapon as Adam Thielen ages, and inevitably regresses.

What makes Boutte so good on the field besides his stats? He has slightly above average size, with a 6 ‘0, 205 lbs muscly frame, and boasted a 4.37 40, during senior year in high school. We can only imagine it to have at least marginally improved, with the rigor of an elite SEC football program’s training and conditioning, not to mention, it totally plays on the field and passes the eye test. He is a fluid athlete, and legitimate deep threat, who in the short and intermediate parts of the field flashes smooth hands, however occasionally has concentration drops on deep balls. He is able to make some contested catches, even at his not mind boggling size, however he has dealt with injuries throughout his freshman and sophomore seasons, a slight cause for concern. Overall, it’s inspiring to know he went up against one of the nation’s top corners, and 2022 3rd overall pick in Derek Stingley daily, for his first two seasons, as one would know iron sharpens iron, and this should’ve been no different an outcome. Boutte is also able to follow in the steps of elite receivers of LSU past such as Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase, both of whom had breakout sophomore campaigns like Boutte, and Ja’Marr who missed his entire junior season, potentially a similar case the Boutte’s uninspiring third year resumé. In the Vikings case, it would help that he would be teamed up with the best receiver in the NFL in Jefferson and could patiently watch and learn from the best, while behind Adam Thielen, who’s nothing of a receiver to scoff at in his own right. Boutte is a top 10 pick NFL draft talent, with lower end production allowing him to drop to the Vikings late in the first or mid 2nd, and it’s a slight risk I wholeheartedly believe they should take. He has one of the highest ceilings in the draft, even against counterparts and elite prospects such as Jordan Addison, Quentin Johnston and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. I think he is a perfect fit and an elite talent who would make perfect sense for this squad going into the future.

NFL Comparison: Ja’Marr Chase
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