Justin Jefferson Gets Impressive Nod from NFL.com

99 Club Highlights
Sep 30, 2022; Thundridge, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson at press conference at Hanbury Manor. From 2020 to 2022, Jefferson accrued the most receiving yards in NFL history by a player in his first three seasons. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

In the few years preceding the 2020 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings were headlined by Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, Danielle Hunter, Dalvin Cook, and Kirk Cousins as ‘faces of the franchise.’

However, by about November 2020, the script had flipped, and wide receiver Justin Jefferson was the man putting butts in seats.

Justin Jefferson Gets Impressive Nod from NFL.com

And that distinction hasn’t stopped for Jefferson, who turned 24 last week. Jefferson is the surefire identifiable face of the Vikings and also happens to be the current Offensive Player of the Year in the NFL.

Gets Impressive Nod
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Jefferson is expected to fetch a galactic contract extension this summer, affording the playmaker cash in the ballpark of $30-$35 million per season for the next several years. The deal will instantly become the largest contract for a non-quarterback in NFL history, and it will belong to Jefferson.

Meanwhile, Jefferson assuredly deserves the eventual deal, according to NFL.com. Bucky Brooks from the site ranked the league’s Top 10 ‘non-QB building blocks,’ and Jefferson checked in at No. 3 on the list behind Micah Parsons (LB, Dallas Cowboys) and Nick Bosa (EDGE, San Francisco 49ers).

Unwaveringly Committed
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) looks on before the game between the Vikings and the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Brooks elaborated, “The 2022 Offensive Player of the Year has become the NFL’s ultimate WR1 due to his extraordinary route-running skills and versatility. Jefferson is a rare find as a big-play pass catcher with the capacity to produce explosive gains from the slot or out wide.”

Since joining the Vikings in 2020, Jefferson leads the NFL in receiving yards, has set every receiving yards mark involving a player’s first three seasons (or xxx games of a career), and snatched single-season receiving yards and receptions Vikings records previously held by Randy Moss and Cris Carter. He’s also a three-time All-Pro, not bad for a player’s first three seasons.

PurplePTSD: Multiple Roster Moves
Sep 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates a touchdown with wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) during the second quarter against Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

“In addition, the fourth-year pro is a nifty catch-and-run specialist with the potential to turn short passes into big gains on the perimeter. He’s a scheme-friendly playmaker with the skills to thrive as a No. 1 receiver in any system — and an easy choice as a franchise pass catcher,” Brooks concluded.

Jefferson could perhaps be placed ahead of Parsons or Bosa, and even non-Vikings fans would agree. The phenom playmaker is that dynamic and hasn’t sniffed his 25th birthday. The Jefferson formula was quite simple in 2022 — when opposing defensive coordinators sold out to stop Jefferson, the other team won. When they did not and Jefferson was allowed to run routes freely, Minnesota won.

The Vikings also granted Jefferson a running mate this offseason, Jordan Addison from USC. Minnesota drafted Addison with the 23rd overall pick in April, and before too long, Addison should, in theory, make it impossible for opponents to clamp down on Jefferson free of charge.

Other players included in the Brooks’ ‘non-QB building blocks’ list included Sauce Gardner (CB, New York Jets), Ja’Marr Chase (WR, Cincinnati Bengals), and Derwin James (S, Los Angeles Chargers), among others.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.