Can Justin Jefferson Break the Single Season Receiving Record?
When it’s all said and done, Justin Jefferson could be one of the best wide receivers the NFL has ever seen. Jefferson is only 23 and is already a 3x Pro Bowler and 1x All-Pro. He continues to get better each year despite getting double-covered regularly and blanketed by every NFL defense. In his first 3 seasons, he has given us incredible highlights including a one-handed catch for the ages in a critical situation.
When Jefferson was drafted in the 1st round by the Minnesota Vikings it wasn’t a big surprise. If you watched the potent LSU offense you saw a star in the making. Although raw, Jefferson showed outstanding ball skills and would catch just about everything thrown his way. During his final year in College, he lined up primarily in the slot and there were questions on if he could excel in the outside role. It’s safe to say that those questions can already be put to rest as it doesn’t matter where Jefferson is lined up. He has shown he will consistently win in any position.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill recently claimed that he would break the single-season receiving yards record. While Hill is talented and very well could come close, it will instead be Justin Jefferson who does it. The Dolphins also have Jaylen Waddle and he will account for a good amount of the target share. Before we look ahead at how Justin Jefferson will break the receiving record, let’s first dive into his stats.
Justin Jefferson Stats
It’s hard not to be in awe when looking at Justin Jefferson’s receiving stats. In 2022 alone, he was first in total receptions (128), first in First Downs Receiving (80) and second in Yards Before Catch (1,185). Jefferson also had a drop rate of only 2.7% which is impressive given the number of targets that went his way (184). His 1,809 receiving yards in 2022 was good for 6th all-time. Jefferson was on pace to break the record last year but was uncharacteristically quiet in his final two games. He had only 5 catches for 53 yards during that span with 0 touchdowns.
- Jefferson had 124 more receptions than Rice (324 vs 200)
- Jefferson also had 1,250 more receiving yards than Rice (4,825 vs 3,575)
- Rice had 15 more touchdowns than Jefferson (40 vs 25)
As you can see the numbers are similar given that Rice played in 6 less games than Jefferson in his first three seasons. The 40 touchdowns by Rice in that span is the second most all-time just behind Randy Moss who had 43. It’s still too early to put Jefferson in the class of the greats but you can see where the stats are trending.
How Justin Jefferson Will Break the Record
So far, we’ve recapped Jefferson’s first three seasons and broke down some key statistics vs the greats. Now let’s point out how he will break the single-season receiving record in 2023.
Next season, the Minnesota Vikings have a fairly manageable schedule. They are in the middle of the pack in terms of strength of schedule. While NFL teams’ success can change drastically from year to year, I expect the Vikings to finish first in the NFC North. The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions finished towards the bottom in NFL total team defense last year and I expect the Packers defense will take a step back.
Putting the schedule aside, I project that Jefferson will finish the year with 2,015 receiving yards. If you look at the stats above, Jefferson has averaged around +200 yards each season and +20 receptions.
The Vikings also drafted Jordan Addison in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. While some will say this is going to take away from Jefferson’s production, I am going in the opposite direction. This will only help Jefferson as some of the defensive attention will now be off him with an additional weapon on the field. With that said, I expect Justin Jefferson to break the single-season receiving yards record in 2023 and I can’t wait to watch him do it.