Aldrick Robinson is deep threat Vikings have been looking for

EAGAN, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings were looking to find a complement to Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs when they brought Aldrick Robinson in for a workout in early September.

But the main goal was to replace Jarius Wright, the former Vikings wideout whose clutch catches on third down and 4.4 speed balanced out what they did on offense the past few seasons. Wright left in free agency and the Vikings struggled to fill that void until the third week of the season.

The Vikings didn’t go into those early-season workouts adamant on finding a deep threat. Robinson boasted two things that set him apart: a pre-existing relationship with quarterback Kirk Cousins and the ability to stretch the field.

"We did feel like we did need a little bit more vertical threat, so that was part of it," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "If it would have been somebody a little slower we probably would have liked them too. I mean it just worked out the right way."

Cousins vouched for Robinson, his former teammate with the Washington Redskins from 2012 to 2014. Although they parted ways years before Cousins became the starter, their time together on the scout team and in preseason games helped form a rapport.

Once they reconnected in Minnesota ahead of Week 3, just 16 days after Robinson was cut by the San Francisco 49ers, it didn’t take long for that chemistry to play out in games.

"It’ll always be like that for me and Kirk," Robinson said. "It was easy just to come in and be a receiver for him knowing that we had history together."

Though he’s been targeted only 26 times this season and has 231 yards receiving (13.6 yards per catch), Robinson's greatest impact has been in getting into the end zone. He ranks seventh in receptions and third in touchdowns behind Minnesota’s top two receivers, Thielen and Diggs.

Judging by Robinson's catch-to-touchdown ratio this season (17 receptions, five touchdowns), the running joke in the Vikings' locker room isn’t that much of a joke at all. Even Robinson can admit, all he does is score touchdowns.

"When you’ve got speed and you can get past defenders and Kirk has the arm he has and we can dial it up," Robinson said. "I run a lot so I know when the ball comes my way it’s probably going to be on a deep ball. It’s a high-percent chance that it’s going to be a touchdown."

Upon seeing Robinson in single coverage deep against the Dolphins, Cousins hit him for a 40-yard touchdown that broke the game open in the fourth quarter. Looking for those opportunities with the increased attention Thielen and Diggs receive will serve Cousins well.

"They attract a lot of attention, those two guys, because they make so many plays," Robinson said of Thielen and Diggs. "It’s going to be a one-on-one and all I’ve got to do is win my one-on-one battle."

The Vikings have struggled to find a clear-cut No. 3 receiver in recent years outside of Wright. It’s a role Laquon Treadwell has yet to grab hold of in his third season, with 34 catches on 46 targets for 295 yards and a touchdown. He also has five drops.

Robinson provides the Vikings offense with deep speed, good hands and a reliable every-so-often option. Once Robinson gets behind a defender, Cousins has the confidence to know his receiver is nearly impossible to catch when he hits him in stride. It’s an important element Minnesota will need as it marches down the stretch of the season.

"As a quarterback, you know your receiver," Robinson said. "You know the type of breaks he can make, you know what type of speed he has and how he runs his routes. Kirk knows that about me and he knows where to put the ball."