Vikings’ Justin Jefferson finds out Friday if he reaches goal of first-team all-pro
EAGAN, Minnesota — Justin Jefferson’s week started with some disappointment. It could end with an honor he has sought.
The Minnesota Vikings’ star wide receiver was frustrated when he fell just 16 yards short of Randy Moss’ 2003 team single-season record of 1,632 yards in last Sunday’s finale against Chicago. But on Friday he could be named first-team all-pro when the NFL’s official team, put out by the Associated Press, is announced.
Only three receivers in team history have been named first-team all-pro: Moss three times (1998, 2000, 2003) Cris Carter twice (1994, 1999) and Gene Washington once (1969). In just his second season in the NFL, Jefferson has had a goal of being the fourth.
“That’s definitely what I want to do,” he said recently. “That’s one of the things I wanted to accomplish this season.”
Jefferson made second-team all-pro last season as a rookie 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 made four Pro Bowls and was second-team all-pro in 1979 as a Vikings receiver from 1976-82. “He’s a heck of a receiver and his future is as good as he wants it to be. He’s one of the great receivers in the league.”
Three wide receivers will be named to the first team. Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams, who caught 145 passes for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns, and Davante Adams of Green Bay, who had 123 receptions for 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns, are regarded as locks.
Jefferson and his former teammate at LSU, JaMarr Chase, are most likely vying for the third spot. As a rookie for Cincinnati, 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 a huge game against Kansas City that could be fresh in mind for voters. Chase caught 11 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns in the Bengals’ 34-31 victory on Jan. 2.
The all-pro team is selected by a national panel of 50 media members. Another Vikings candidate for first-team honors is rookie kickoff returner Kene Nwangwu.