Justin Jefferson joined a Vikings team in 2020 that needed another receiver after former general manager Rick Spielman traded Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills. For that reason, Spielman used the exact same pick he got in return from Buffalo for the fifth receiver taken in the draft, LSU standout Justin Jefferson. Nobody imagined that he could instantly replace Diggs in his full capacity, but he did just that.
Jefferson ranked fourth in yards in his rookie year and second in 2021 as a Sophomore and recorded 3,016 yards in his first two campaigns. The connection and blind trust he formed with his quarterback Kirk Cousins is rare and results in elite production.
Opponents know that the passer is always trying to get the ball to number 18, as he’s the offense’s focal point, but there’s simply no chance to defend it. His crafty route running and smooth athleticism, paired with elite body control, form a once-in-a-generation receiver and his numbers are otherworldly.
The third-year player is the leader in NFL history in receiving yards per game with 97. The next one on the list is Julio Jones, with 90.1. Jefferson already set the new standards for the most yards in the rookie season, which has since been broken by his college teammate Ja’Marr Chase. However, he set the new record for most yards in the first two seasons and could add two things to his resume won Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
Jefferson needs 88 yards when the Cowboys come to town. That yardage would give him the record for the most yards in the first three seasons of a player’s career. He would pass Randy Moss, the current record holder with 4,163 receiving yards. After only 47 yards, he will also pass Odell Beckham Jr., who is also a former LSU star. The interesting part of that record is that Jefferson’s season still has eight games left.
The 88 yards are important in another aspect, as the receiver would tie Tyreek Hill for the lead in receiving yards in the 2022 season. Hill is in his bye week, something that Jefferson already had. Most had Hill as the league’s top receiver after his incredible start into the season, but a 44-yard performance against the Browns pulled his numbers down, while Jefferson recorded 193 yards against the Bills, the most of any player in a single game in 2022.
Hill is second and third on the list with 190 and 188 yards. Fourth is another Jefferson game, his 184 yards against the Packers in Week 1. It is fair to say that the two players are currently the top wideouts in football.
The 88 yards are not a high number for Jefferson, as he recorded at least 98 yards in his last six games. However, the Vikings face the Cowboys, and last season, Jefferson didn’t have his most productive day against that opponent. The game took place on Halloween, and Jefferson had a scary stat line. He had just two receptions for 21 yards. Dallas has a strong defense, and Jefferson will get the most attention. Star cornerback Trevon Diggs could very well be his main defender.
Jefferson is on pace for 2,002 receiving yards in the 2022 season, which would give him another record. The single-season record is 1,964 yards, held by former Detroit Lion and Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, who did it in 2012.
The Vikings wideout put the league on notice with his 193-yard performance in Buffalo. Most of his catches were impressive and very hard to do, including one grab that may go down as the greatest catch in NFL history. Falks have problems understanding how he made the catch after watching it hundreds of times.
No receiver has ever won the MVP award, and it turned into a complete quarterback award in recent years. The last non-quarterback to win it was Adrian Peterson in 2012. However, Jefferson’s Vikings are 8-1, and if they can continue to win games, he could be in the mix, especially if he can set the single-season record. He’s one of the favorites to win the Offensive Player of the Year award.
On Sunday, Jefferson will once again be in focus against the Cowboys. A strong game could generate even more attention and hype around the superstar.
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