Vikings select USC WR Jordan Addison at No. 23 in NFL Draft

The 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner for the nation’s top wide receiver at Pittsburgh, the speedy and polished Addison transferred to USC for his final college season.

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Southern California wide receiver Jordan Addison arrives on the red carpet before the first round of the NFL Draft.

Southern California wide receiver Jordan Addison arrives on the red carpet before the first round of the NFL Draft.

Charlie Riedel/AP

EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings picked USC wide receiver Jordan Addison with the 23rd overall selection of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, giving star Justin Jefferson a viable sidekick after the jettisoning of veteran Adam Thielen.

Addison was the fourth consecutive wide receiver taken after none went in the first 19 slots, following Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Ngjiba (Seahawks), TCU’s Quentin Johnston (Chargers) and Boston College’s Zay Flowers (Ravens).

The 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner for the nation’s top wide receiver at Pittsburgh, the speedy and polished Addison transferred to USC for his final college season.

With uncertainty beyond this year at quarterback with Kirk Cousins on an expiring contract, the Vikings passed on a chance to take Kentucky’s Will Levis, who was widely expected to be gone by the time No. 23 came up. Three of the first four picks — Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson — were quarterbacks.

The Vikings drafted a quarterback in the first round only four times in their first 62 seasons: Tommy Kramer (1977), Daunte Culpepper (1999), Christian Ponder (2011) and Teddy Bridgewater (2014). Fran Tarkenton was the 29th overall pick in their inaugural season in 1961, but that was a third-rounder.

After the departure of several key veteran players — Thielen and linebacker Eric Kendricks were released for salary cap space and cornerback Patrick Peterson and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson free agents signed elsewhere for bigger contracts — the Vikings need some instant impact from this draft class. That’s a taller task starting with only five picks, and no second-rounder.

Last year, in their first draft under general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the Vikings traded the 12th overall pick to division opponent Detroit and moved all the way down to No. 32 to net two additional second-day selections. The Lions took wide receiver Jameson Williams, a tantalizing prospect whose ACL rehabilitation limited his rookie season. The Vikings went with safety Lewis Cine, who broke his leg on special teams in Week 4 and played a total of two snaps on defense before his injury.

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