Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Randy Moss, and Larry Fitzgerald are some of the best wide receivers to ever set foot on the gridiron. All highly touted out of college, their NCAA accomplishments granted them first-round selections in the NFL draft.
From that day forward, they were expected to be the main contributors to the success of their teams. All have lived up to those expectations and more—Rice, Irvin, and Moss are all in the Hall of Fame while Fitzgerald continues his stellar career and is well on his way to Canton, Ohio. These receivers laid out a blueprint for the way to become a prime target in the NFL.
Adam Thielen, however, did not follow the traditional path for becoming a star wide receiver in the NFL. He went undrafted out of Minnesota State University and did not even get an invite to the 2013 NFL combine. After battling through plenty of adversity, Thielen proved worthy of a free agent signing by the Minnesota Vikings—his favorite team growing up.
He continued to prove himself to the Vikings and the rest of the league, eventually having his breakout campaign in 2016 which earned him a lucrative four-year deal. He followed that year up with a pro bowl season in 2017 where he accumulated 91 receptions and 1,276 yards which helped lead the Vikings to the NFC Championship game.
Entering 2018, the Vikings added a key piece to their Super Bowl caliber regime, free agent quarterback, Kirk Cousins. Thielen is a technician with his route running and is always able to find the soft spot in the zone. He’s taken advantage of the talent at quarterback and has started off his season accomplishing a streak that no receiver has ever been able to do before. In each of his first six games, Thielen is the only wide receiver in the Super Bowl era to have over 100 receiving yards. That is the record, and he has the opportunity to keep the streak alive. He also surpassed Randy Moss to have the most receiving yards through the first five games, with 583 for any Vikings receiver.
Setting franchise and NFL records are not something all 32 teams expected when they passed over Thielen at the 2013 draft. The hometown hero was thankful to just have the opportunity to sign with the Vikings, and now the team should be thanking Thielen for enhancing his craft and pursuing greatness.