With two weeks like in the season, favorites for end-of-season awards have begun to cement clear cut winners across the NFL.
NFL.com’s Tom Pellisero recently polled team executives from 22 teams around the league, including nine general managers, and the usual suspects emerged.
Patrick Mahomes for Most Valuable Player (MVP). Aaron Donald Defensive MVP. But the Offensive Rookie of the Year award wasn’t as clear.
Pelissero’s survey resulted in a tie between Minnesota Vikings rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson and Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. The Offensive Rookie of the Year award has often given the edge to quarterbacks over the years, but Jefferson, who finds himself 196 yards away from surpassing Anquan Boldin’s single-season rookie receiving yards record (1,377), has made a strong case for himself.
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Executive: ‘I Don’t Think They Miss Stefon Diggs’
The trade that landed Jefferson to the Vikings was a risk. Minnesota had to part ways with former 2015 fifth-round pick Stefon Diggs, trading him to the Buffalo Bills in return for a first-round pick along with three others.
Jefferson was selected by the Vikings No. 22 overall with the pick exchanged in the trade, immediately — and unfairly— pegging him as Stefon Diggs’ replacement.
The expectations surrounding the rookie were tempered after he didn’t start the first couple games of the season, but he has since exceeded expectations, catching 73 passes for 1,182 yards in 12 starts, breaking Randy Moss’ rookie receptions record and most 100-plus yards games mark in the process of earning Pro Bowl recognition.
“I don’t feel like they miss Stefon Diggs,” an executive said in Pelissero’s poll. “That’s a big role to fill.”
Diggs leading the league in receptions and helping the Bills to their first AFC East title in 25 years with an 11-3 record shows the trade was a win-win, however, what the Vikings do with the picks could put their bounty from the trade over the top.
Vikings Have Two 2021 Picks Left From the Trade
General manager Rick Spielman traded away the 155th pick and 201st picks received in the trade for future picks in the 2021 draft.
In pick-for-pick trade with the Chicago Bears, the Vikings received a 2021 fourth-round pick for the fifth-rounder received in the Diggs’ trade. They also sent the 201st and an existing seventh-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens to pick up a 2021 fifth-round pick and the 225th overall pick in last year’s draft.
The returns on the trade are still to be seen, but with Jefferson creating a near stalemate, another player to emerge from the picks in this upcoming draft could win the war for Minnesota.
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- Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.