Vikings’ Justin Jefferson Cracks Top-7 Wide Receivers Rankings

Justin Jefferson

Courtesy of Vikings Justin Jefferson has proven to be one of the league's best receivers.

Minnesota Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson asserted that he’s not just one of the best rookie wide receivers, but one of the best receivers in the league, period.

Jefferson broke the rookie receiving yards record last season with 1,400 air yards and became the first player since Randy Moss in 1998 to earn All-Pro recognition as receiver in their first year.

As the fifth wide receiver selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, Jefferson carried a chip on his shoulder throughout the season and, even still, has detractors of his greatness.

However, Bleacher Report gave the 21-year-old high praise, ranking Jefferson among the top seven wide receivers in the league.

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Jefferson Makes Splash as No. 7-Ranked Receiver by Bleacher Report

Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report took the opportunity to assess the landscape at wide receiver this offseason, ranking the top seven wide receivers in the league along with several honorable mentions.

Jefferson cracked No. 7 on Gagnon’s list, ahead of veteran honorable mentions like Keenan Allen, A.J. Brown, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and even a 32-year-old Julio Jones.

Here’s Gagnon’s case for Jefferson:

You might argue that we’re crowning Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson too soon, but it’s really hard to argue with a 1,400-yard rookie season. And that happened despite the fact that the 21-year-old was held to just 70 total yards in his first two games.

Only two receivers beat that 1,400-yard mark, and only three averaged more yards per target than Jefferson (11.2), who dropped only two of the 125 passes thrown his way and was tied for the league lead with 23 20-plus-yard receptions.

In a run-oriented offense, the 2020 first-round pick scored four touchdowns on deep balls, ranking behind only three receivers in that category.

Put simply, he has already become an elite playmaker. And that happened in a rookie season that contained almost no time for preparation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now imagine how much more dominant Jefferson can become as he gets more acclimated in the 2021 offseason.

Here’s the remainder of Gagnon’s list, all of which are elite company Jefferson has landed among:

  1. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
  3. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
  4. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills
  5. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
  6. DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

 Jefferson Could be Considered in the Top 5

While Bleacher Report’s rankings offered high praise for Jefferson, it may have been a bit conservative of his potential.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently ranked the top 101 players in the NFL and ranked Jefferson No. 15 — ahead of Diggs at No. 16. He was the second-ranked wide receiver by PFF, trailing only Adams who was ranked the fifth-best player in the league.

“The Vikings struck gold with Justin Jefferson: He wasn’t just the best rookie receiver in 2020, but he also set rookie records and was one of the best first-year receivers in NFL history. Making that all the more improbable is that Jefferson was the fifth receiver off the board in the draft, and the Vikings barely played him during the first two games before seemingly stumbling upon what they had,” PFF senior editor Sam Monson wrote. “Jefferson finished the year trailing only Davante Adams in yards per route run (2.66) and did as much damage as he did despite ranking just 15th in targets.”

Jefferson ranking second in yards per route run is evidence of his efficiency and value to the offense when he’s on the field. While Diggs was the most productive wide receiver in the league last season, leading the NFL in receiving yards (1,459) and receptions (120), Jefferson proved more efficient, presenting a case he could easily be among the top five receivers in the league.

Player Completed Air Yards (per target) Yards After Catch (per target) Yards Per Target
Justin Jefferson 8.1 3.1 11.2
Stefon Diggs 6.9 2.2 9.1

Jefferson can further solidify his stake as a top wide receiver in the league in his sophomore season, where he’ll have a true offseason to continue his development.

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