Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Vikings’ Justin Jefferson will find out Friday if he achieves his goal of becoming a professional first-team player

Justin Jefferson Week started with some disappointment. It might end up with the honor he was looking for.

The Vikings’ star wide receiver was disappointed when he was just 16 yards short of Randy Moss’s 2003 single season record of 1,632 yards in the Finals against Chicago last Sunday. But on Friday, he could be named a pro first-team player when the official NFL team is announced, published by the Associated Press.

Only three receivers in team history have been named first-team pros: Moss three times (1998, 2000, 2003), Chris Carter twice (1994, 1999) and Gene Washington once (1969). In just his second season in the NFL, Jefferson set a goal of finishing fourth.

“This is definitely what I want to do,” he said recently. “That’s one of the things I wanted to do this season.”

Jefferson became a pro second team player last season when he caught 88 passes for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 games. He was even better in 2021, finishing with 108 receptions for 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns in 17 games.

“Absolutely, I think (Jefferson) had an all-pro season,” said Ahmad Rashad, who won four Pro Bowls and was second-team all-pro in 1979 as a wide receiver for the Vikings from 1976-82. “He’s a damn good receiver and his future is as good as he wants it to be. He is one of the best receivers in the league.”

The first team will include three wide receivers. The Los Angeles Rams’ Cooper Kupp, who caught 145 passes for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns, and Green Bay’s Davante Adams, who had 123 receptions for 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns, are both considered to be castles.

Jefferson and his former LSU teammate Jamarr Chase are most likely in contention for third place. As a Cincinnati rookie, Chase caught 81 passes for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Jefferson had more catches and yards than Chase. But Chase had more touchdowns, was on a team that made the playoffs, and recently had an important game against Kansas City that may be fresh in the minds of voters. Chase caught 11 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns in the Bengals’ 34–31 win on January 2.

The professional team is selected by a national commission of 50 media representatives. Another Viking nominee for first-team honors is rookie Kene Nwangwu.

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