Eagan - Josh Doctson admitted Wednesday it feels good to be wearing a purple jersey again.
He thought he might get drafted by the Minnesota Vikings after a standout career as a wide receiver at TCU. Instead, he went to the Washington Redskins as the No. 22 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
One pick in front of Laquon Treadwell, who was one of 37 players cut by the Vikings last weekend after they couldn’t work out a trade with another team. Treadwell made 56 catches and had one touchdown in 40 career games for the Vikings.
Doctson now has a new opportunity himself after being cut by the Redskins on Saturday. He saw a familiar face the first time he walked into TCO Performance Center. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was his teammate for two seasons with the Redskins. At one point, Cousins considered Doctson his No. 1 wide receiver.
On the first depth chart released by the Vikings ahead of Sunday’s season-opener against the Atlanta Falcons, Doctson is listed as the fifth wide receiver. He’s behind Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Chad Beebe and Bisi Johnson.
He’s just happy for the opportunity.
“When Minnesota called, it was a no-brainer to come and join Kirk. I knew they’ve got a couple guys over here that are really good, so to be able to watch those guys in practice, man it’s been a great run so far,” Doctson said.
He said Cousins sent him a text after hearing he was coming to Minnesota, saying it would be a good move for Doctson to make.
Two seasons ago, Cousins targeted Doctson 78 times over 16 games. They connected for 35 catches, 502 yards and six touchdowns. The duo averaged 14.3 yards per reception that season.
In his rookie season, Doctson had just two catches for 66 yards.
“Any time you can have a guy, who for me in 2017 was really our top receiver, to have a guy like that who can provide depth to your roster if heaven forbid something does happen to one of our receivers, I think that’s a big asset and I’m excited to get him going,” Cousins said.
Doctson was nothing short of a star at TCU. In three seasons with the Horned Frogs, he had 179 catches for more than 2,700 yards and 29 touchdowns. He became a household name after his senior year, which featured 78 catches for 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns.
He’s been in the Twin Cities before. He opened that senior season against Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium, leading the Horned Frogs to a win over the Gophers with eight catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. TCU entered that season ranked No. 2 in the country.
With Cousins in 2017, Doctson had four catches for 30 yards against the Vikings in Week 9, a 38-30 win for Minnesota.
Doctson’s primary roles with the Vikings could come in the downfield passing game, or in the red zone. He’s known for his ability to get vertical, win jump balls and catch the football at its highest point.
Mike Zimmer knows Doctson going back to before the 2016 NFL Draft. The Vikings had a workout with him in his native Texas, and he was an option with the No. 23 pick before the Redskins took him just one slot higher.
“We hope that he brings some size and speed, he’s a great jumper, athletic. We hope he comes in here, he’s got to learn the system obviously, and do the things he’s capable of. He’s a competitor,” Zimmer said.
Doctson said it shouldn’t take a lot of time to adjust to the Vikings’ offense, which many of the current players are still learning themselves. A lot of the route concepts and plays are similar to what he did in Washington with Cousins.
He’s already gotten to know his new wide receiver corps, and Stefon Diggs likes what he sees early on.
“I know he’s a vertical guy. He can go up and get the ball. I know coming out my year, we were high on him. Watched a lot of tape on him, he was a high draft pick too, so he does a lot of things well. I’m looking forward to him playing with us,” Diggs said.
Doctson doesn’t know what his role with the Vikings will be yet. He has to go through a few practices and dive into the playbook first. What he does know is that he’s willing to do whatever is needed to help the Vikings win games.
He’s just grateful to have another opportunity after being among the hundreds of players across the NFL to fall victim last weekend to roster cuts. It’s the nature of the business in professional football.
“I’m just glad to be in the building to be honest. Be on a team, back on a roster, not a lot of time off so that’s good. My legs are still good and I’m ready to go,” Doctson said.