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Justin Jefferson: ‘I’ll be the best receiver in the NFL in 2023’

Andrew Buller-Russ

The title for the best receiver in the NFL is usually pretty subjective, especially in the high-scoring passing era of today’s generation. More teams are living and dying through the air than ever before, leading to several great pass-catching performances. Justin Jefferson, one of the players in the conversation to be the NFL’s best receiver, is just one example of how a newcomer can quickly gain respect among his peers.

But still, few would agree on who the best receiver in football is. Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams just became the first receiver since 2005 to win the receiving triple crown after leading the league in catches, yards, and touchdowns. He followed that incredible year up by winning Super Bowl MVP in the postseason. Kupp certainly deserves to be a part of any conversation involving the league’s best.

Another player who is commonly regarded as one of the best at his position is the recently traded Davante Adams, who’s been named a first-team All-Pro receiver each of the past two seasons. Even though he was a rookie last year, I’ll already put Ja’Marr Chase in the competition, too, based on what he already showed as a first-year pro.

Not to be forgotten, Michael Thomas from the New Orleans Saints is just a year removed from breaking the NFL’s all-time single-season receptions record, hauling in 149 passes. He can not go unmentioned here either. Basically, there are several receivers worthy of consideration.

But after two years in the league, Justin Jefferson feels he’s close to being the best but not quite there yet.

Related: Love the Vikings? Get involved in the discussion on the Purple Pain forums

Justin Jefferson places Davante Adams at No. 1

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no questioning Justin Jefferson’s confidence or his abilities. The Minnesota Vikings receiver currently has the record for the most receiving yards through a player’s first two seasons in NFL history, with 3,016. He’s still just 23 and is entering his third season, one that somehow is expected to take even more advantage of his abilities now that he’s in a pass-first offense likely centered around him being the primary playmaker instead of Dalvin Cook.

Jefferson’s in for a big year, which is saying something considering last season he racked up 1,616 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. The yards ranked second in the NFL, and the touchdowns placed him in a three-way tie for sixth place in the league.

But he feels his accomplishments so far are merely a stepping stone for what’s to come. Based on how the Vikings are approaching the upcoming season under Kevin O’Connell, he may be right.

Related: Justin Jefferson speaks out about Vikings ‘old-school offense’ last season

In a recent interview with Complex, Jefferson noted how he actually feels Davante Adams is the best receiver in football, but he’s not far off, in his eyes.

I’ll say after this year I’ll be the best receiver in the NFL. I definitely have to give it to Davante Adams as of now, him being so crazy and dynamic on the field. His route running is crazy, so I definitely have to give it to him right now, but I’m pretty sure after this year, it’s going to be me.

Justin Jefferson to Complex

Jefferson said he feels he needs to prove it for one more season, and then he thinks he should be regarded as everyone’s No. 1 receiver in the NFL.

“I think I have to do it three years in a row for everybody to believe so. Some people don’t think that after two years you deserve to be at the top of the league. And then me, I feel like I’m going to surpass 1600 yards too. So I think that I’ll become the best receiver after this year.”

Related: 3 Minnesota Vikings poised to breakout in 2022

Justin Jefferson aiming for the Hall of Fame

NFL: Minnesota Vikings Minicamp
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

While Jefferson may currently have his sights set on surpassing Adams as the best receiver in football today, he won’t rest there. His goals are to become an all-time great.

“I’m just trying to be up with those greats, trying to be next to them in the Hall of Fame. I didn’t expect to be on top of the league this soon, but all of the hard work I’ve done and all of the things that I’ve sacrificed in my career and in my life to make myself this type of player, it’s definitely a blessing to have all of these things come to me so soon.”

Jefferson also made some interesting comments about his 2019 LSU team that won the National Title, with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. He said that team was ‘definitely’ the best team ever in college football. But it was the praise he heaped on passing game coordinator Joe Brady that stood out to me.

“Then Joe Brady came in that 2019 season and changed the whole offense and we went crazy. It was definitely a fun year that whole year, how we went crazy and turned that around and went undefeated like that. I felt like we always had those players, we just had to get into that right system, and of course, we had one of the best quarterbacks to play”, said Jefferson.

Reading between the lines, it’s not hard to draw parallels to the Vikings’ situation with O’Connell taking over the ship. If Jefferson feels this is the ‘right system’, as he mentioned during his LSU days, maybe the Vikings could be in for a fun year too.

Related: Overpaid or underrated: 2022 outlook for Vikings QB Kirk Cousins