From undrafted free agent to one of the NFL’s best all-around wide receivers, Adam Thielen is nothing short of a remarkable story. The Minnesota Vikings showed their appreciation for his hard work by signing him to a four-year, $64 million contract earlier this offseason.
Thielen is entering his sixth season with the organization but this is only his fourth season as a starter in the offense. The Vikings gave him an opportunity to make his dreams of playing in the NFL come true when they signed him as an undrafted rookie out of Minnesota State in 2014.
The team hasn’t looked back since and Thielen has turned himself into arguably the team’s best receiving option alongside Stefon Diggs. This season, the 29-year old wide receiver should be in for another productive campaign in his second year with Kirk Cousins.
In his first seasons with Cousins as his quarterback in 2018, Thielen posted career-highs in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. The duo obviously built a nice rapport as the season progressed and have had the whole offseason to improve their chemistry.
With that being said, here are three last-minute predictions for the Vikings wide receiver in 2019.
3. Thielen Will Have 110 Receptions
Since becoming Minnesota’s most reliable weapon on offense, Thielen hasn’t had any troubles racking up the receptions. Over the past two seasons, the Vikings wideout has averaged 102 receptions per season; with 113 of them coming in 2018.
What makes Thielen so reliable is his pristine route running and his strong hands to make the tough catches. As a result of Thielen’s skill set, Cousins has put his trust in the veteran receiver to make plays in crucial situations.
This season, Thielen may not repeat his 113-reception performance from last year but he should be able to haul in another 110 receptions. Due to Diggs being on the field with Thielen, he may see fewer targets in the offense at times.
Plus, Minnesota loves to utilize their tight ends with Kyle Rudolph and rookie Irv Smith likely to have roles in the passing attack.
2. Thielen Will Catch 10 Touchdowns
When the Vikings find themselves in the red zone, defenses know that they are looking for No. 19 to make a play. In 2018, Thielen was remarkable in the red zone with 15 receptions for 90 yards.
Along with his receptions and yards, the Minnesota native managed to score six of his nine touchdowns in the red zone. With the number of weapons in the Vikings offense, there isn’t a shortage of scoring opportunities.
Surprisingly, Minnesota scored a touchdown on just 54-percent of their red-zone trips (21st in the NFL). It’s hard to believe that the Viking won’t perform better in the red zone this year in Cousins’ second season with the team.
As a result of their probable improvements, Thielen could catch a career-high 10 receiving touchdowns in 2019.
1. Thielen Will Exceed 1,400 Receiving Yards
Over the course of his career, Thielen has never been a big-play wide receiver that consistently threatens defenses down the field. The veteran receiver boasts a career 13.3 yards per reception due to doing most of his damage on intermediate and short routes.
Nevertheless, the Vikings pass-catcher is more than capable of turning a slant into a 50-yard reception if need be. Despite the possible decrease in receptions this season, Thielen could manage to be more effective with the catches he does get.
Last season, Thielen had 1,373 yards through the air, which was a career-high for the undrafted receiver. Some receivers become complacent when they receive a new contract but Thielen doesn’t seem like the type to do that.
If anything, Thielen seems like the type of player who would work even harder after signing a lucrative extension. Therefore, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that the Vikings receiver surpasses 1,400 receiving yards this season.