Stefon Diggs was an afterthought in Minnesota. He wasn’t even a lock to see the field for the Vikings this season. Yet, the rookie wide receiver has become one of the NFL’s most pleasant surprises, and doesn’t seem to be relinquishing his role any time soon.
The Vikings thought that Charles Johnson was going to be one of the breakout stars of the 2015 season. That hasn’t been the case, as injuries have kept the former 7th round draft pick off the field. With Johnson on the shelf, Diggs has filled in admirably I’m absence.
In his first three weeks of game action, the 21-year-old has amassed 316 yards. He has turned into Teddy Bridgewater’s go to wide receiver, and It should come as no surprise that the quarterback’s three highest passing yard games have come with Diggs in the lineup. He has catapulted himself into the Vikings top WR role, not bad for a guy that fought to maintain a roster spot out of training camp.
Diggs didn’t have a ton of hype going into the 2015 NFL Draft. He was a fifth round pick, and even in a weakened receiver class, wasn’t thought of as a consummate NFL pro. So, how has Diggs become one of the league’s best rookies?
It’s possible many teams were scared off by Diggs’ injury history, which resulted him missing time in both his junior and senior seasons. There is always that fear that an injury prone player such as Diggs will never be able to stay on the field. That doesn’t mean he can’t contribute when healthy.
Diggs was still an All-Big Ten second team member for his junior season, despite missing a good chunk of it with injury. He opted to forgo his senior year at Maryland to enter the Draft, and without a full season of dominant play on his résumé, the chances of his draft stock soaring into the first three rounds were slim to none.
It seems that Minnesota’s scouts and coaching staff did their homework when it came to Diggs. They drafted him based on his on the field work, and took a risk considering his off the field injury history. So far, it’s a gamble that has payed huge dividends.
Despite his quick emergence, the Vikings coaching staff has been quick to downplay the sudden breakout of Diggs. Offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, went on ESPN radio to speak with Andrew Krammer to set the record straight about his newest star receiver.
“There’s a reason he was a fifth-round pick. He had injuries in college his last year, he had some inconsistencies. One of the things when we got him here was we made it clear to him he needs to overcome those inconsistencies if he’s going to make it. And he’s worked hard to do it. There’s a lot of things he can get better at.”
Regardless of what Turner says about Diggs, it’s apparent that he is a true playmaker at the NFL level. While it may be a rush to judgement to say the Vikings have found the next Cris Carter or Randy Moss, it’s not too far off.
It’s been less than a quarter of a season for Diggs on the field action. However, the instant chemistry with Bridgewater has brought new life to the Vikings offensive assault. Whether or not it continues is a question that needs to be answered, but it’s certainly off to a good start.