Justin Jefferson Continues to Set Historic Pace


Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) scores a touchdown on a pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) against the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

During Sunday’s performance, Justin Jefferson set a few very notable marks for his young career, and he continues to establish a truly historic pace for his young career. He became the Vikings franchise leader for most receptions in a player’s first three seasons, set a career-high with 12 catches in the game, and became the fourth Viking to record 10+ receptions in back-to-back games, per Stathead. (Cris Carter, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen).

Re-Writing Record Books

Through 38 games of his NFL career, Jefferson finds himself in rarefied air among NFL receivers. After tying Michael Thomas for the most receptions in an NFL players first two seasons (196) and setting the record for receiving yards (3016), the Vikings receiver is threatening to re-write the Year Three record book as well.

Five games into the 2022 season, he is 11th in receptions with 236 and 8th in receiving yards with 3563, again per Stathead. Here are the players sitting in front of him on the receptions list:

  1. Michael Thomas (321)
  2. Christian McCaffrey (303)
  3. Odell Beckham Jr. (288)
  4. Jarvis Landry (288)
  5. A.J. Green (260)
  6. Anquan Boldin (259)
  7. Diontae Johnson (254)
  8. Alvin Kamara (243)
  9. DeAndre Hopkins (239)
  10. Mike Evans (238)
  11. Justin Jefferson (236)

And here is the receiving yards list:

  1. Randy Moss (4163)
  2. Odell Beckham Jr. (4122)
  3. A.J. Green (3833)
  4. Michael Thomas (3787)
  5. Torry Holt (3786)
  6. Mike Evans (3578)
  7. Jerry Rice (3575)
  8. Justin Jefferson (3563)

So, how possible is it for Jefferson to get to No. 1 on both lists? Well, if we go off the pace he’s set through the first five games, we should get ready for it to happen sooner than later. Through five games, Jefferson is averaging 8 receptions per game and a league leading 109.4 receiving yards per game.

For Jefferson to catch Michael Thomas for most receptions, he must continue averaging around 8 catches per game. If he does exactly that, he’ll catch the Saints receiver during Minnesota’s Week 13 contest against the New York Jets.

As for Moss’ receiving yards record, if Jefferson continues his torrential pace of nearly 110 yards per game, that record could fall even sooner. If he keeps up this pace, Jefferson will have Moss’ record sometime in the second half of Minnesota’s Week 12 game against the New England Patriots.

Single Season Records

Jefferson’s early season pace doesn’t just matter in terms of Year Three records, though. If he continues averaging 8 catches and 110 yards per game, he’ll land among the top in single season records as well. Essentially, he’ll have recreated the 2015 Julio Jones season.

Jones’ lauded year in 2015 landed him third all-time in receiving yards (1871) and tied for fourth in receptions (136). Jefferson’s 17-game pace right now puts him right at 136 receptions alongside Jones and 1859.8 receiving yards. Rounding the receiving yardage total to an even 1860, and that places him fourth all-time in single-season yards right behind Jones and ahead of Jerry Rice’s 1995 season total of 1848.

Of course, Jefferson is doing this with an extra game, but his start to the season is still impressive. Only 15 players have averaged at least 109.4 receiving yards per game for an entire season.

Jefferson is doing so despite having a game with just 14 yards against the Lions. He’s also played against three defenses that rank inside the top 10 in terms of passing yards allowed after Week 5. With games against the Dolphins, Cardinals, and Commanders coming up, we should continue to see huge days from the star receiver.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing as well as minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his takes, NFL and otherwise, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken


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