Vikings announce Explosive  Rivals Playmaker to Replace $12 Million engine room star who sign in 2023…

All the quarterback buzz surrounding the Minnesota Vikings‘ draft has drowned the discussion of having to replace K.J. Osborn — and wideout Javon Baker could be put to the task.

KPRC2 Houston’s Aaron Wilson (who has over 20 years of NFL experience covering the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans) reported on April 13 that Baker has visits with the New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, Ravens and Vikings, per a league source.

Baker is considered a fourth-round prospect in the upcoming draft after a splash of a senior year at UCF. After transferring from Alabama, Baker tallied 52 receptions for 1,139 yards and seven touchdowns.

After a successful rookie year from Jordan Addison, the Vikings did not re-sign Osborn, who inked a one-year, $4 million contract with the Patriots in March.

At 6-foot-1, 208 pounds, Baker has the size and explosiveness (4.54 40-time) of an every down contributor in the NFL.

In 2023, Baker’s 21.9 yards per reception was the second-best mark in the FBS. His 21 catches of 20 or more yards ranked fourth behind top-10 pick prospects Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze and Day 2 prospect Malik Washington.

Formerly a four-star recruit, Baker received offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama and other SEC schools. He committed to the Crimson Tide in 2020 but struggled to secure a meaningful role in the offense, leading to his transfer to UCF in 2022.

Baker was used across the formation for the Knights, lining up outside on 72.9 percent of his snaps and 27.1 percent inside, per The Athletic’s Dane Brugler.

Lacking top-end speed to win on the outside in the NFL, Baker projects as a gadget receiver with a knack for winning over the middle of the field — an area Kevin O’Connell tends to exploit in his scheme.

“Baker is a good-sized athlete with explosive flashes to create on YAC-designed plays (tunnels, swing screens, etc.) or win deep  He can make some wild catches with his body control and length, but the drops and inconsistencies at the catch point can be maddening,” Brugler wrote in his draft guide. “Overall, Baker is a loose-striding athlete with ball-tracking skills, although his tape is full of inefficiencies and question marks that didn’t allow him to consistently showcase his talent. He projects as a developmental Z receiver with starting upside.”

Once considered a hidden gem in the Vikings wide receiver room, third-year receiver Jalen Nailor needs to prove himself this offseason with the pressure to find a true third wide receiver on.

Selected in the sixth round of the 2022 draft, Nailor was a prospect wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell pounded the table for in draft meetings. He broke out late in his rookie year, tallying seven catches for 151 yards and a touchdown in the final two games of the season.

Last season, Nailor was injured during training camp but was secured a spot on the 53-man roster. He later landed on injured reserve during the first month of the season. He was re-activated in November but was not a frequent contributor on offense, finishing the year with just three catches.

Brandon Powell proved to be the more steady presence as the Vikings’ fourth wide receiver and is the frontrunner for the third wide receiver spot this offseason.

The pressure will be on Nailor to push Powell for the third wide receiver role — and if the Vikings are considering a rookie in this year’s draft, that will add even more competition for Nailor.

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