In this moment of his NFL career, Olabisi Johnson has really painted the short end of the stick. After being selected in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Johnson had to close his tail to gain a roster spot. He did just that and did quite a fruitful Rocky campaign while helping the Vikings make the playoffs. Johnson was targeted 45 times, and with those goals, he made 31 receptions, 295 yards and three touchdowns.
After that rookie season, head coach Mike Zimmer and attacking coordinator Gary Kubiak Johnson seemed ready to take on more responsibilities. He was named WR2 on the depth chart before the 2020 season and the first two games of the season started. That’s when Justin Jefferson’s show begins, and Johnson’s starting spot slips out of his possession.
During these two starts, the second-year receiver achieved seven goals that turned into four receptions and 80 yards. Johnson bowled just four balls in the next eight games. Then, when Adam Thilen went down with Covid before the 11-week match against the Carolina Panthers, he was pushed back into the starting lineup.
After waiting all season for his moment, Johnson was not disappointed, he held his seven goals for 74 yards and a two-point conversion. It will not be enough to find more representatives in the offense even though he will have only one goal for the rest of the season.
2021 seemed like a chance for him to break the WR3 spot, but a torn ACL during training camp kept him sidelined for the entire season. Now that the 2022 season is approaching, and with the upcoming return of Arv Smith Jr. as well as KJ Osborne’s breakout season, we are once again wondering, what will the Vikings in the world do with Olabisi Johnson?
Well, if the Vikings’ QB startups have to hold on with any weight, we could be on the brink of Johnson’s breakout season. During today’s press conference, Kirk Cousins spoke eloquently about the wide receiver, calling Johnson and Arv Smith two players that he was “expecting big things” in 2021 before they get injured.
The Cousins talked about 11 games that week in 2020, saying that Johnson was originally placed in the role that Thilan usually plays. The two must have the same style of play, relying more on pure motives and purposeful pursuits than on athleticism to get open. Johnson has demonstrated some of Thiellen’s similar Red Zone abilities throughout his career.
As Thiellen approaches his age-32 season, perhaps 2022 is the year where he begins to take a step back in terms of crime. What better way could there be to help an experienced player reduce some of the burden than a player with a similar style and who was almost irrelevant in his draft class?
Johnson has not been given a ton of opportunities in his NFL career so far, but he has been present when needed. We’ll see if 2022 is finally the year of the final outcome for the massive receiver.