This is the third in a series of position previews for the 2020 NFL draft, which runs April 23-25.
Today: Wide receivers and tight ends
Three names to know
WR Justin Jefferson, LSU: Assuming the top names in a deep receiver draft (Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy, as well as Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb) are gone by the Vikings’ pick at No. 22, Jefferson could be the best of the group that’s left. His hands, ability to run after the catch and capacity for contested catches could entice the Vikings if he gets past Philadelphia at No. 21. The depth in the receiver class, and the presence of Adam Thielen still on the roster, could lead the Vikings to wait on picking a wideout, but Jefferson might be one of the players that causes them to rethink that strategy.
WR Tee Higgins, Clemson: He could be available with either of the Vikings’ picks late in the first round, or could slip into the second round if teams are inclined to wait on receivers. Especially if Higgins is available with the 58th overall pick, he’d add a different dimension to the Vikings’ group of receivers, with a 6-foot-4 frame that might turn him into a red zone favorite for Kirk Cousins. He’ll need to work on beating physical corners in the NFL, but the Vikings haven’t had a receiver of his stature in recent years.
WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State: The senior had core muscle surgery earlier this month that isn’t expected to hinder his rookie season, but it could lead to Aiyuk slipping into the second round where the Vikings might be especially inclined to take him. He was a dynamic punt return at Arizona State, and could fill a need there while he develops as an NFL receiver; the former junior college player could need some time to learn how to handle corners that play him aggressively at the line of scrimmage.
WR Tyler Johnson, Minnesota: Concerns about Johnson’s athleticism could push him to the third day of the draft, but his hands and refined route-running could make him attractive to the Vikings if they’re looking for a receiver who can step in and play relatively quickly. Johnson had planned to run for scouts at the Gophers’ pro day; that plan was scuttled when coronavirus concerns led the U to cancel the event. At a time where teams could have to rely more on college production than workout stats, though, Johnson’s tape with the Gophers could help.