One of the glaring weaknesses of the current Minnesota Vikings' roster is a big-play receiver to take some of the heat off of Percy Harvin and assist in the development of quarterback Christian Ponder. However, the Vikings are in luck in this regard, as the free agent market at wide receiver this off-season is a pretty deep one.
Here are, in this writer's opinion, the top five wide receivers that the Minnesota Vikings should be targeting in free agency when things kick off on Tuesday afternoon.
1) Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers - The Vikings almost had a deal completed for Jackson in 2010, but the Chargers pulled out of the deal, leading to the whole Randy Moss v2.0 debacle. Jackson is a huge downfield target at 6'5" and 230 pounds, with the leaping ability to win a lot of jump ball situations. He's the top prize in this year's free agent class at the wide receiver position. . .but there's going to be a lot of competition for him, as the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills (among others) have already been linked to Jackson.
2) Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis Colts - Garcon got the benefit of playing with Peyton Manning for a few years in Indianapolis, but actually put up his best numbers this season (70 catches, 947 yards) with Manning on the sidelines. He's not a big guy (6'0", 210 pounds), but he's got very good hands and is a good route runner. He also has the speed to stretch defenses, which is the main thing the Vikings need to be looking for.
3) Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints - Another big receiver at 6'4" and 225 pounds, Colston has a reputation for being a bit injury-prone. But he's also shown the ability to play through those injuries, and to be a very productive wide receiver. In six NFL seasons, he's had five seasons of at least 70 catches, 1,000 yards, and 7 touchdowns. That kind of production can't be denied, and is something the Vikings could use.
4) Laurent Robinson, Dallas Cowboys - After bouncing around the league a little bit, Robinson found a home in Dallas last year across from Dez Bryant. He recorded career highs in all three receiving categories in 2011, finishing the year with 54 catches, 858 receiving yards, and 11 scores. He's not that big either, measuring in at 6'2" and 195 pounds, but he still has plenty of potential.
5) Brandon Lloyd, St. Louis Rams - Splitting time between the Denver Broncos and the Rams last season, Lloyd hauled in 70 passes for 966 yards and five scores. He turns 31 in July and has already been around the National Football League for a while, but has an affinity for making incredibly athletic catches. He's been very productive the last two seasons, and though he's the smallest receiver on this list (6'0", 190 pounds), he would be a welcome addition to the Vikings as well.