Zone Coverage: Can Chad Beebe really make the Vikings' roster?

Will the annual preseason fan-favorite make the 53-man roster?
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Chad Beebe

This story first appeared at Zone Coverage and was re-shared through a collaboration with Bring Me The News

The news that Chad Beebe is the favorite to be the Vikings third wide receiver this year is one of the more surprising nuggets to come out of Vikings’ camp so far. With all the focus being on first-round rookie Justin Jefferson and free-agent addition Tajae Sharpe, Beebe was an afterthought and one who many figured would be cut in camp.

If Beebe does, in fact, make the team how will he do it and what will the fallout be?

WHO IS CHAD BEEBE?

Beebe is the son of former NFL legend Don Beebe. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Northern Illinois, is only 5’10”, weighs 190 pounds soaking wet and not exceptionally fast. Where he wins is with his precise route running and overall knowledge of the game. He has been watching his dad play since he was young and understands how to exploit an open area on a defense.

The Vikings signed Beebe after the 2018 draft, and after an impressive preseason made the team’s practice squad. He ended up appearing in three games late in his rookie season and was able to haul in four balls for 39 yards. The following year, Beebe made the Vikings’ active roster but was injured after three games. He missed the remainder of the season after catching two passes for 70 yards.

WHY IS HE CONSIDERED A LONG SHOT TO MAKE THE TEAM?

Beebe was considered a long shot to make the Vikings in 2020 for a couple of reasons.

First of all, he wasn’t very good in 2019. Beebe was not only a great route runner coming out of college but showed exceptional hands. He caught everything thrown his way after using his quick twitch ability and knowledge of routes to get open. In the preseason last year, he had some uncharacteristic drops and even ran the wrong routes a few times, which led to Vikings’ turnovers, and suddenly those reliable paws of his began to lose some of their luster.

Beebe was also valuable to the Vikings because of his ability to return punts. Last year, Beebe had three muffed punts over the course of two games and proved to be extremely unreliable in this regard. To be undersized, lacking speed and having unreliable mitts isn’t a great formula for NFL success.

The other reason why Beebe was considered a long shot to make the Vikings in 2020 was because of all the talent the team brought in. Minnesota traded away Stefon Diggs but added plenty in return. They took Jefferson in Round 1 of the draft, K.J. Osborn in Round 5 and signed Sharpe in free agency. The Vikings also added talented UDFA Quartney Davis, and suddenly the wide receiver cupboard was bursting with talent and competition.

That wasn’t the case a season ago. The Vikings wide receiver depth chart was so void of talent, that they only kept four players. A spot on the roster will be much harder to come by this season, and guys will have to work extra hard to make it.

HOW CAN BEEBE MAKE THE TEAM?

Beebe can make the team by putting together a preseason like the one he had as a rookie. That year he looked great in exhibition games, running sharp routes and making incredibly good catches. Beebe also needs to show the ability to be a reliable option as a punt returner. Osborn may be the man both returning kicks and punts this year, but he will need a backup. If Beebe consistently fields punts well and has no muff jobs, that would add value to keeping him around as the fourth or fifth receiver.

One thing that is in Beebe’s favor is the lack of preseason games, OTAs and mini camps. In these COVID-19 shortened times, teams have been giving hints that they are more apt to keep veterans over inexperienced rookies. Beebe definitely has experience and the trust of his coaches, as offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak loves the kid and has made that widely apparent in press conferences.

WHAT HAPPENS IF BEEBE DOES MAKE THE TEAM?

If Beebe ends up making the team, it will have a fallout that will negatively impact some other pass catchers on the roster. The Vikings have potentially only two spots open on their wide receiver’s depth chart, as Thielen, Jefferson and Johnson are all locks to make the team. If Beebe ends up getting in, that could cause Osborn to get cut and placed on the practice squad. It could also mean the end of the Tajae Sharpe experiment. Players like Alexander Hollins and Quartney Davis would also be let go in hopes of being placed on the practice squad.

Osborn, Hollins and Davis would all be very risky options to try to slip through waivers and could easily get snatched up by another team looking to add talent and depth to their receiving corps. The Vikings would have Beebe, but it could cost them players with much higher ceilings, and if those players do reach their potential somewhere else, that’ll cause Rick Spielman and the rest of the Vikings’ offensive staff much pain and regret.

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