3 Vikings — Yes, 3 — Receive All-Pro Honors

Jefferson Smashes
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The NFL Player’s Association released its first All-Pro teams a couple of days ago. It is their attempt to judge themselves for the first time instead of having the national media dictate the narrative. That team may one day replace the usual AP All-Pro teams.

However, the official Associated Press All-Pro teams were released on Friday, just one day before the NFL playoffs begin, and the awards will still be at the top of players’ bios.

Fifty media members filled out their ballots, and two Vikings landed on first-team All-Pro; a third one made the second team.

3 Vikings — Yes, 3 — Receive All-Pro Honors

Justin Jefferson

Arguably the best receiver in the game led the league in receiving yards and receptions. He became the youngest player ever to do that in a season, breaking an 86-year-old record. Jefferson is also the first Viking to lead the league in receiving yards, something neither Cris Carter nor Randy Moss could do. Another record he has set is that for the most receiving yards in the first three seasons of a player’s career.

3 vikings
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Jefferson is the offense’s focal point, and opponents try everything to take him out of the game. He still managed to record 128 catches and 1,809 receiving yards, the sixth most in NFL history. A couple of opposing cornerbacks held the receiver in check and were universally praised for it, which shows how hard it is to stop the third-year player.

Jefferson is one of only two unanimous players on the All-Pro team this season. The other one is Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs tight end. Wideout Jefferson is eligible for a contract extension, and the Vikings would be foolish to let him walk in free agency in a couple of years.

He is the face of the franchise and one of the most likable players in the league. Fans worldwide are starting to become Vikings fans just because of him, which reminds a lot of Randy Moss 24 years ago. Jefferson will play in his first NFL postseason game on Sunday afternoon.

Andrew DePaola

The veteran long snapper is getting some well-deserved recognition. He came into the league as an undrafted player in 2012. The Buccaneers signed him during their training camp but waived him a few weeks later. One season later, he was once again cut before the season started.

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In his third try, DePaola finally made the team and had his debut for the Buccaneers in 2014 and was the long snapper in Tampa Bay for three seasons before he was cut. He was a Chicago Bear in 2017 and played for the Raiders in 2018. Unfortunately, DePaola tore his ACL in Week 1 and didn’t play another snap for two years.

The Vikings finally gave him a shot in November 2020 because their long snapper Austin Cutting struggled. DePaola has played in every game for Minnesota since Week 11 in 2020.

The All-Pro team is not his only honor. He also was voted to his first-career Pro Bowl. PFF graded him as the most accurate long-snapper in the league. DePaola is an outstanding example of an athlete that never gave up and ultimately was rewarded for his hard work and persistence.

Kene Nwangwu

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Return specialist Kene Nwangwu is one of the most explosive returners in the game. He returned three kicks for a score in just 28 career games. The Vikings needed his touchdown on Thanksgiving against the Patriots to win the game.

He is technically a running back but hasn’t been used as one. However, his ability to change a game with a single play is an important skill. The returner is a threat to take the kick return to the house on any given kickoff.

Nwangwu recorded the second-most kick return yards of the season and scored one of the six return touchdowns in the league. His 26.3 average yards per return rank him fifth in the season.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt