When the Minnesota Vikings 2022 season ends — whether prematurely in the postseason or gloriously in February — fans of the team will debate ad nauseam if the franchise needs a WR2-caliber talent in the 2023 NFL Draft.
General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah may indeed use an early-round pick to get richer at wideout, but an incumbent Viking made the case for the job in the season’s final five games — K.J. Osborn.
Osborn was phenomenal to close out the regular season, tallying 38 receptions for 388 yards and 3 touchdowns in the final 5 games. Scaled to a 17-game pace, assuming Osborn has a shot at WR2 in 2023, his end-of-season numbers would look like this: 129 receptions, 1,319 receiving yards, and 10 scores.
One Vikings Playmaker Finished 2022 with a Bang
And those are the numbers the Vikings should reasonably expect under head coach Kevin O’Connell whose first year in Minnesota has proven he absolutely loves throwing the football. In fact, in a total change of pace for Vikings football, the franchise ran the ball the third least in 2022, only “outpassed” by Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Chargers.
Osborn, 25, came on strong to close out 2022 and conducted mammoth games against the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears. During the Week 15 showdown with Indianapolis, Osborn was arguably the foremost spark to kickstart the largest comeback in NFL history. Minnesota somehow erased a 33-0 halftime lead at U.S. Bank Stadium to win 39-36.
Not convinced Osborn was among the NFL’s best in the final five games? Here’s his company from Week 14 to Week 18:
- A.J. Brown (546 yards)
- Justin Jefferson (532 yards)
- DeVonta Smith (485 yards)
- Jerry Jeudy (458 yards)
- Keenan Allen (444 yards)
- CeeDee Lamb (431 yards)
- K.J. Osborn (388 yards)
- Mike Williams (385 yards)
- Jaylen Waddle (384 yards)
- Evan Engram (380 yards)
Of course, when 2023 begins, Osborn must continue the production, especially if the Vikings anoint him WR2. Osborn’s teammate, Adam Thielen, has encountered a rapid age-related decline in 2022, so the club will almost assuredly search for a WR2 in the coming months. It might just be Osborn.
Osborn is under contract through the end of next season, and Minnesota could possibly extend him in the coming months — or save the conversation until he hits true-blue free agency. The only concern about tabbing the Miami alumnus for full-time WR2 duty is this — what took him so long? He recorded 650 receiving yards in 2022, down 5 yards from his sophomore campaign last year. He was targeted 8 more times in 2022 than in 2021 but didn’t really “get hot” until the last portion of the season.
Osborn and the Vikings host the New York Giants on Sunday, Minnesota’s first home playoff game since The Minneapolis Miracle.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).