Before the 2022 NFL season, the Green Bay Packers sent what was widely regarded as the best wide receiver in the league to the Las Vegas Raiders. Derek Carr was given an elite target in Davante Adams, and Aaron Rodgers was stripped of virtually all pass catchers. The only problem is that Adams was never the top dog.
Looking back over the last few years, you’d be hard-pressed to find many better quarterbacks in the NFL than the Packers Aaron Rodgers. Whatever he is as an individual, it’s clear he’s an all-time great on the gridiron. Tom Brady is still playing, and the emergence of talents like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen is certainly noteworthy as well. Regardless, Rodgers is on that upper tier with the best of anyone.
The NFL Got the Top Receiver Wrong
Of course, having an elite quarterback translates to receiver production as well. Davante Adams is not the first wideout that has seen success alongside Rodgers. While he may be one of the last with the veteran’s career coming towards a close, it is worth questioning how much of the production was influenced by other individuals.
Adams has posted double-digit touchdown marks in six of his last seven seasons. He led the league in 2020 with 18 of them and is again pacing the sport with 12 this season. What he has done just once in his career, however, is top 1,400 yards.
Enter Justin Jefferson.
Minnesota moved on from Stefon Diggs and immediately replaced him with a better talent out of LSU. Jefferson took the league by storm as a rookie posting 1,400 yards and followed it up last season with a 1,600-yard campaign. Now on pace to set the single-season receiving record and with an outside shot to be the first player with 2,000 receiving yards in a season, the man’s production knows no limits.
For Jefferson, he’s produced at those levels with the likes of Kirk Cousins as his quarterback. To be fair, that’s not a knock on Minnesota’s signal-caller whatsoever. Cousins is not at the upper tier and may be a borderline top-10 quarterback across the league, but he has worked in tandem to generate this type of production from football’s best.
There has been no shortage of criticism surrounding Cousins throughout his career. Team abilities notwithstanding, he has primarily been a .500 quarterback that has wilted in big moments. That has led to discussion as to whether he is a more ideal talent than someone like the Raiders own Carr.
Indeed, Las Vegas is making things work by finding ways to get Adams the ball in the end zone, but his overall production pales mightily compared to 2020 Cooper Kupp levels and Jefferson since he entered the league. Despite having a similar caliber of passer throwing him the ball now, and one that was infinitely better before, Adams has realistically never been capable of calling himself the better player.
Every season since 2017 has resulted in a Pro Bowl for Adams. He has been named an All-Pro twice, and there’s no denying he’s among the best across the league. What he isn’t, though, is Jefferson. The Vikings wideout has been a Pro Bowler since becoming a professional, should be discussed as the 2022 MVP, will potentially win the Offensive Player of the Year, and is undoubtedly in line for his first All-Pro first-team selection.
Make no mistake, based on both this season and the body of work as a whole, Justin Jefferson is the NFL’s best wide receiver.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.