Justin Jefferson took the NFL by storm during his rookie season. The Minnesota Vikings star set franchise records that were held by Randy Moss, introduced the world to “The Griddy” and set a rookie record in the Super Bowl era for most receiving yards. But for his success, it appears he still hasn’t gained the national attention he deserves.
The latest slight came on Monday when EA Sports released their top 10 wide receivers for Madden NFL 22. While several superstars made the list, Jefferson did not with an overall rating that checks in under 90.
Being unrecognized is not a new thing for Jefferson. He was the runner-up to Justin Herbert in the Rookie of the Year Award voting and played in an offense that featured Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase at LSU. But Jefferson’s performance should vault him into the top 10.
Davante Adams is the lone receiver with a 99 overall rating and Jefferson finished second to him in yards per route run last season. Simple math indicates that Jefferson had a higher YPRR than the other nine receivers on the list and only Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins had more receiving yards.
If Jefferson has better stats than every player on the list, why didn’t he make the cut? It may have to do with something more than stats.
Going further down the list, Cousins isn’t going to win a popularity contest against Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Tom Brady, or Dak Prescott. Even the names on the list that don’t have elite quarterbacks are either future Hall of Famers (Julio Jones) or have a longer track record (Allen Robinson).
But even if that’s the case, it doesn’t explain how Jefferson isn’t on the list when Odell Beckham Jr. was shot into superstardom after his rookie season.
Beckham’s 2014 season is one of the best NFL history by a rookie, collecting 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns during his rookie campaign. Like Jefferson, Beckham put up his numbers in limited action, doing his damage after missing the first month with a groin injury.
After a highlight-reel catch on national television, Beckham became a household name and even graced the cover of Madden NFL 16. Beckham’s overall grade that year was 94 and the fifth-highest among receivers.
It might also be a case of the team Jefferson plays on. He put up a monster rookie season but he did it on a team that went 7-9. Meanwhile, all ten receivers on the list saw their teams head to the playoffs.
Sure, Jefferson could be setting records but when he’s doing it during a meaningless Week 17 finale in Detroit, there aren’t as many people watching as, say, the Nickelodeon playoff game.
In the end, winning may be the fastest way to raise Jefferson’s Madden rating. If he can take another step forward in his second season, and the Vikings rebound, there’s a good chance he’ll be held in the same regard as the other names on the list.