This season, Justin Jefferson is doing things that no one has been able to do. Justin Jefferson, through 15 games, has 1,756 receiving yards and 123 receptions, both league leading. Today, we will compare this 23 year old to some of the best wide receivers to ever play the game, and show how dominant this griddy man has been in 2022, and how he may have one of the greatest peaks, forget a wide receiver, an NFL player, has ever had!
If Justin Jefferson is able to keep up this pace, he will put him self 3rd all time in receptions in a season, and 1st all time in receiving yards in a season. And if he’s able to cross the 100 yard mark in his final two games, he’ll have the most 100 yard receiving performances in a season in NFL history. The problem with all of these records is the difference in games. The NFL has only had 17 games for the past two seasons, and had 16 games for the remainder of modern NFL history. So how will these records stack through just 16 games. Well, here is his projected total in all of these categories through 16 games, and 17 games:
*number in parentheses is where that would rank all time
16 games: 185 tgt (t-10th), 131 rec (6th), 1,873 yds (3rd – would be 2nd if Cooper Kupp also played 16 games), 8 TD (unranked)
17 games: 197 tgt (4th), 139 rec (4th), 1,990 yds (1st), 8 TD (unranked)
These are insane numbers! The only fault on this Justin Jefferson season will be his touchdown total. However, he ranks high in every other major category when it comes to receiving. But let’s compare this season to other great seasons in recent history, and overall, in NFL history.
The first player I’ll compare him to is this years version of Tyreek Hill. Hill led the league in receiving yards for the majority of the season, but has been surpassed by Jefferson the past few weeks. Hill, on his current pace, would be on pace to be 4th all time in receiving yards in a season through 17 games. Very impressive. However, as good as Hill’s been, he is lower than Jefferson in every single major statistical receiving category. And some may say it’s because he has Jaylen Waddle next to him, meaning he’ll get a significant amount of less targets. And that may be correct. Because he is on pace to have 18 less targets than Jefferson, and if he had those 18 more receptions, he would be on pace for over 2,000 yards over a 17 game season. However, Hill also gets a better quarterback, and has Jaylen Waddle to space the field. The Vikings quarterback is Kirk Cousins and their 2nd wide receiver is Adam Thielen or K.J. Osborn. Still good but not what Hill is surrounded by. Overall, some may say Hill, but the stats, and the overall consensus like me, would pick Jefferson.
How about last season’s Cooper Kupp? He had 1,947 receiving yards, which ranks 2nd all time in NFL history, and just 17 yards shy of Calvin Johnson’s record. He also won the triple crown, as he led the league in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. It is considered to be one of the best wide receiver seasons of all time! But like Hill, he had weapons around him. Matthew Stafford at quarterback, and either Robert Woods or Odell Beckham Jr. to spread the field. He had weapons to get him the ball. That doesn’t take away what he did, but it just adds to what Jefferson is doing. Kupp was awarded offensive player of the year and 1st team All Pro honors for this achievement
Let’s compare him to Michael Thomas a few years ago. His stats aren’t as crazy when it comes to yards, however, he was so consistent and reliable at catching the football. He had over an 80% catch percentage, and had 1,725 receiving yards. Not to mention he also had 149 receptions, the most in NFL history. Thomas though, like the others on here, had weapons around him, like Drew Brees, the most accurate quarterback in NFL history, and Alvin Kamara in the backfield, running and passing. Like Kupp, Thomas was awarded offensive player of the year and 1st team All Pro honors for this achievement.
The list goes on like Julio Jones’ and Antonio Brown’s 2015 season, Isaac Bruce’s 1995 season, and others. But the bottom line is this: Justin Jefferson’s season is up there in NFL history. And us fans are taking for granted the fact that we may be witnessing one of the greatest wide receiver primes in NFL history. You call me crazy? Well, take Jerry Rice as an example, the consensus greatest wide receiver of all time. If you take his top two seasons of receiving yardage production, and add them together, you get a combined 3,418 yards. If you take Justin Jefferson’s projected 16 game total this season, and his projected 16 game receiving total from last season, you get 3,394 receiving yards, just 24 yards less than the best Jerry Rice has ever been in his career. And he’s just 23 years old in the middle of his 3rd season. Insane!
I’ll leave everybody with this. You’ve seen that Jefferson’s season is ranking towards the top of wide receiver seasons in NFL history. But what makes it so much more impressive is the fact that he’s doing it, with the weapons he has around him, compared to what others have. Below is some of the greatest wide receiver seasons of all time, and the quarterback and spacing they were given to succeed, compared to what Jefferson has:
* = Projected total through 16 games (or 17 if 2021 or 2022)
Justin Jefferson 2022: QB – Kirk Cousins (93.3 rating), WR – Adam Thielen (783*receiving yards)
Cooper Kupp 2021: QB – Matthew Stafford (102.9 rating), WR – Robert Woods (1,050* receiving yards)
Jerry Rice 1995: QB – Steve Young (92.3 rating), WR – Derek Loville (662 receiving yards)
Julio Jones 2015: QB – Matt Ryan (89.0 rating), RB – Devonta Freeman (1,056 rushing yards)
Antonio Brown 2015 – Ben Roethlisberger (94.5 rating), WR – Martavis Bryant (1,112* receiving yards)
Michael Thomas 2019 – Drew Brees (116.3 rating), RB – Alvin Kamara (1,520* scrimmage yards)
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