The wide receiver three role has been one of the most speculated positions throughout the last couple of seasons in Minnesota. Despite being a run-heavy team that comes out regularly in multiple tight end sets, the Vikings needed more depth in their receiving room behind Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson.
Over the weekend the front office continued to stay busy, addressing the lack of depth at wide receiver by signing former Jaguars speedster Dede Westbrook.
Although Westbrook has never been a superstar in the NFL, his speed and home run hitting ability is something that the Vikings have lacked behind one of the league’s top duos. He’s coming off an ACL tear that ended his season in 2020, so the Vikings were able to get a team friendly one-year deal.
Here are some of his numbers prior to missing the majority of his 2020 season.
Westbrook will fill a void in the receiving room, but he’ll also be a massive addition on special teams. His punt returning ability is something the Vikings didn’t have on their roster and it’s fair to expect that he’ll be in the mix for that role come Week 1.
Adding in a veteran presence with a ton of speed was huge for the Vikings. Wide receiver coach Keenan McCardell worked with Westbrook in Jacksonville, so he’ll have a familiar face in his group as camp kicks off later this week.
The competition at wide receiver just got more intriguing to watch throughout training camp and the preseason. Chad Beebe and Bisi Johnson have shown flashes of being legitimate receiving options, but adding Westbrook will likely bump them down on the depth chart.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s name was floated around regularly this offseason as a potential wide receiver three, but the Westbrook addition will give him time to ease into the offense. Mike Zimmer tends to keep his rookie receivers sidelined longer than most, but a Smith-Marsette breakout would give the Vikings some strong depth at the position.
Whether or not the Vikings utilize a WR3 frequently in 2021 remains to be seen, but at the very least they now have some added depth at the position.
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