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It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Jarius Wright could be poised for a breakout season, but to those who aren’t Vikings fans, he is a relative unknown.
Despite turning it on for the last half of the season, he still didn’t catch the eyes of NFL talent evaluators, fantasy football mavens or statisticians, which is evidenced by his consensus 79th overall ranking by fantasy experts.
Naturally this has as much to do with quarterback play and system as it does with talent, but the fantasy experts do have a bit of a point. He only had three games of 50 yards receiving or more (and one game of 49 yards) in that final stretch, and he did fall all the way to the fourth round of his draft class.
But the lack of recognition he has received is still a little confusing. He was unranked in Matt Miller’s top 100 list of wide receivers behind such luminaries as Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins.
Aaron Schatz, however, noticed Wright’s late-season push. At ESPN Insider (a subscription service), Wright was one of two Vikings to crack his list of the NFL’s top breakout prospects at No. 20. Among other things, Schatz had this to say:
As soon as Minnesota gave him a chance last year (after Percy Harvin's injury), he quickly became the only receiver who could consistently get open for the Vikings. Wright finished with 4.4 percent DVOA, light-years ahead of the veterans who started ahead of him (Jerome Simpson and Michael Jenkins combined for minus-19.3 percent DVOA). Wright's best performance was in Week 17, when he torched Casey Hayward a few times in the game that landed Minnesota in the playoffs.
By all accounts—including my own observations at training camp and in the preseason—Wright has had an impressive offseason and looks set to prove he deserves a spot as a starter alongside Greg Jennings. The configuration of the roster makes it tough, but he’s a heady player who already figures to get major snaps as the team’s primary slot receiver.