When it comes to being the best, you have to have the stats, and you also have to be a playmaker. When the game is on the line, being the best means getting the job done. The perfect example of being the best is Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson.
In Jefferson’s rookie year, he made a serious case for Rookie of the Year. Fast-forward to the 2022 NFL season, and he is now making a case for being an M.V.P candidate. Currently, Jefferson is on pace to have 2,000 receiving yards, if this happens he would be the first wide receiver in NFL history to ever do it. The world really started to recognize Justin Jefferson when the Vikings played the Buffalo Bills, where he caught the spectacular fourth-and-18 catch for 32 yards. The catch was caught one-handed, and it was over Bills cornerback Cam Lewis, but the fact that Jefferson held on to the ball as he was coming down was mind-blowing. The catch was so incredible that the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be making a display of Jefferson’s gloves and arm sleeve that he wore during the game.
Jefferson’s performance against the Bills was incredible, he had 193 receiving yards, averaged 19.3 yards per reception, had 33 yards after catch, caught seven-of-nine contested targets, and created eight of the total 14 first downs that the Vikings had. Jefferson went three-of-three on 20-plus yard passes, which is quite amazing. Plenty of people might say that a receiver is only as good as their quarterback, but with the way Jefferson has played, he certainly has elevated Kirk Cousins’ performance this season.
Statistically, Jefferson is the second-best wide receiver, trailing only Tyreek Hill. However, Jefferson has played one less game than Hill so far, and they both have the same number of touchdowns. Jefferson averages 1.2 more yards per reception than Hill, averages three yards more per game, and is only trailing Hill by 88 yards in total yards for the season so far. Based on ESPN stats, if Jefferson would have played the same number of games as Hill has, Jefferson would actually have more yards with 1,177 receiving yards. Currently, no other wide receiver is projected to reach 2,000 receiving yards.
There are three factors when it comes to being the best wide receiver in the NFL, how clutch are you when the game is on the line, hands and mental strength, and lastly body control. Jefferson checked off all three in the Bills game, and right now, I don’t think any other wide receiver has this year. Jefferson caught that pass on fourth down because of his hands and body control, while the game was on the line. His ability to not crack under pressure is what makes him great. I could compare him to the rest of the wide receivers in the NFL, like Stefon Diggs, but the fact is, Jefferson is doing what others can’t. Jefferson being able to break records, and being projected to break more records in such a short time is incredible, and he’ll only continue to get better.
Guys like Diggs, Hill, Ja’Marr Chase, and even Mike Evans have some pretty good quarterbacks throwing them the ball. Not to discount Kirk Cousins, but Cousins has been elevated by Justin Jefferson. The Minnesota Vikings got an absolute steal in the 2020 NFL Draft, where four wide receivers were taken before Jefferson, but none are better than Jefferson. It’s safe to say that in a statistical point of view, even though he has played one less game, he technically would be the leading wide receiver if he would already have played 10 games. In general, Justin Jefferson is currently the best wide receiver playing in the NFL.