Everyone has a different definition of the term ‘superstar,’ however, Dan Hanzus is the authority for the ‘Superstar Club,’ as he writes an annual article about his own club. One year ago, the purple team had one member categorized as a superstar. This year, another one got the honor.
The list includes offensive skill position players: quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, and one kicker. Every time a new player gets elevated to superstar status, one player has to leave the club. Hanzus ensures that the number of players stays consistent.
Dalvin Cook, the Vikings’ top running back, got the call to be part of a select group in 2020 after a strong campaign in 2019.
“Cook put it all together in his third season with the Vikings, setting career highs in rushing yards, receiving yards and total touchdowns. He averaged 118.1 scrimmage yards per game, a number that would have been even higher if not for the shoulder injury that cost him time and sapped some of his effectiveness in the final weeks of the season. Yes, injuries continue to be a concern with Cook, but his ability is undeniable, and now we have a season of tangible proof that he can produce at a McCaffrey-like level when in top gear.”
Since then, Cook had an even better year in 2020 and still produced at a top-level in a ‘down-year’ 2021 season. Five running backs made the list next to Cook: Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Nick Chubb, Christian McCaffrey, and Jonathan Taylor. In the last three seasons, only Derrick Henry scored more touchdowns and recorded more yards than the Viking.
Since this offseason, Cook isn’t the only member of the Vikings in the ‘Superstar Club.’ Overall, 29 players are a part of the group, so it’s not easy two have two of them on the roster.
After his historic rookie year, Hanzus was still skeptical, but after continuing his incredible run in his sophomore year, there’s no denying it. Jefferson is a true superstar.
“I absolutely should have put Jefferson in this club after his fantastic rookie season. When a young wideout enters the league and immediately eviscerates the competition, it ain’t gonna be a one-hit wonder situation. Jefferson was once again transcendent last season with Kirk Cousins, setting career highs in catches, yards and touchdowns en route to his second Pro Bowl selection.”
Jefferson recorded the most receiving yards out of all players in the NFL since he was drafted. He hit the ground running and was instantly fabulous. No receiver in NFL history had more than his 3,016 receiving yards in his first two seasons. He also added 17 touchdowns. In 2022, Jefferson could even improve his numbers, and the new Vikings coach is the reason for that.
“Like everyone else in Minneapolis, Jefferson is excited to be part of a modern Kevin O’Connell-run offense that should lean more heavily on the passing game than what we saw during the dying days of the Mike Zimmer regime. Yep, Jefferson could get even better in Year 3.”
The third-year wideout has a special connection with his quarterback, Kirk Cousins. They reached all of those milestones in a run-first offense. Kevin O’Connell is expected to change the offensive philosophy, and therefore, Jefferson could dominate the competition once again.
Jefferson also has Adam Thielen in the WR room with him. The two form a great duo because both can play all positions, from left to right and in the slot. The two are the most productive receiver duo in the league in the last two seasons in terms of yards and touchdowns.
With two members of the ‘Superstar Club’ on the Vikings, the new Vikings coaching staff can get creative. With a few tweaks, the offense can be incredibly explosive, which is what the Vikings need to be successful in 2022. O’Connell is a disciple of Sean McVay. The former NFL backup quarterback was McVay’s right-hand man for two seasons. The 2021 season, of course, resulted in a Super Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
O’Connell designed the Rams’ game plans that made Cooper Kupp one of the most productive receivers in NFL history, so the expectations for Jefferson are sky-high.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. 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