Justin Jefferson has been a force since he entered the NFL three seasons ago, rewriting the record books in the process. The only player with 3,000 receiving yards after his first two seasons, Jefferson is on pace to set even more receiving marks in Year 3.
Jefferson is fourth in the NFL in catches (69), second in receiving yards (1,060), and 10th in yards per catch (15.4) through nine games. He leads the league in receiving yards per game (117.8) and is on pace to become the first player to have 2,000 receiving yards in a season.
The Minnesota Vikings are on a seven-game win streak thanks to Jefferson's play, as his 828 receiving yards during the streak are the second-most by any player during a seven-game win streak since the merger. Jefferson has had five 100-yard receiving games over the last six contests, as he's stating his case as the best wide receiver in football.
Set to make even more history this Sunday, Jefferson's first three seasons compared to the all-time greats are featured in this week's "By The Numbers." We'll also take a look at Jefferson's historic start to the 2022 season and how he's on pace to rewrite the record books.
Most receiving yards in first three seasons -- NFL history
- Randy Moss (Vikings) -- 4,163
- Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants) -- 4,122
- Justin Jefferson (Vikings)-- 4,076*
- A.J. Green (Bengals) -- 3,833
- Michael Thomas (Saints) -- 3,787
*8 games remaining in third season
Most receptions in first three seasons -- NFL history
- Michael Thomas (Saints) -- 321
- Christian McCaffrey (Panthers) -- 303
- Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants) -- 288
- Jarvis Landry (Dolphins) -- 288
- Justin Jefferson (Vikings) -- 265*
*8 games remaining in third season
Jefferson is just 88 yards away from having the most receiving yards ever by a player after the first three seasons of his career. Based on his 117.8 receiving yards per game pace, Jefferson should break that mark on Sunday. With Jefferson's current pace, he'll end up with 972 more yards on he year -- giving him 5,048 receiving yards after three seasons.
Averaging 1,683 receiving yards per season (assuming Jefferson ends the year on his current pace), Jefferson would need to keep that pace for the next 11 seasons to pass Jerry Rice on the all-time receiving yards list (22,895).
Jefferson is just 57 receptions away from passing Thomas for the most receptions after three seasons in NFL history, needing to average 7.1 receptions per game to reach that mark. Rice also has the most career receptions with 1,549, so Jefferson still has a ways to go to reach that mark. Jefferson is on pace for 130 catches his year, which would give him an average of 109 catches after three seasons. He would need to keep that pace for 12 more years to pass Rice.
The king of big games, Jefferson already has the most 100 and 150-yard games by any player after three seasons in NFL history -- and he still has eight games left in year three.
Most 100-yard receiving games in first three seasons -- NFL history
- Justin Jefferson (Vikings) -- 20
- Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants) -- 19
- Randy Moss (Vikings) -- 19
- T.Y. Hilton (Colts) -- 16
- John Jefferson (Chargers) -- 16
Most 150-yard receiving games in first three seasons - NFL history
- Justin Jefferson (Vikings) -- 7
- Lance Alworth (Chargers) -- 6
- Randy Moss (Vikings) -- 6
- Bill Groman (Oilers) -- 5
- Mark Duper (Dolphins) -- 5
- Jerry Rice (49ers) -- 5
- Isaac Bruce (Rams) -- 5
- Victor Cruz (Giants) -- 5
- Mike Evans (Buccaneers) -- 5
- Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants) -- 5
Jefferson already has 20 100-yard receiving games in his career, good enough for 121st on the all-time list. He's only 56 games behind Rice for first and 27 behind Michael Irvin for 10th -- so he could reach Irvin by year seven at his pace. Jefferson is only 20 100-yard games away from Steve Largent for 22nd on the all-time list.
Rice has the most 150-yard receiving games in NFL history with 30, so Jefferson is only 23 behind him. Jefferson is only three 150-yard receiving games away from tying Irvin for 19th on the all-time list (Irvin, DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, and A.J. Green each have 10). he needs just seven more 150-yard games to tie Antonio Brown for 10th on the all-time list (14).
In addition to Jefferson's historic start to his career, his first nine games of the year are amongst the best in NFL history. He's also one pace to be the first 2,000-yard receiver in NFL history.
Most receiving yards in player's first 9 games in season -- NFL history
- Charley Hennigan (Oilers) -- 1,245 (1961)
- Elroy Hirsch (Rams) -- 1,162 (1951)
- Raymond Berry (Colts) -- 1,147 (1960)
- Tyreek Hill (Dolphins) -- 1,104 (2022)
- Calvin Johnson (Lions) -- 1,083 (2013)
- Isaac Bruce (Rams) -- 1,073 (1995)
- Justin Jefferson (Vikings) -- 1,060 (2022)
Most receiving yards in a season -- NFL history
- Calvin Johnson (Lions) -- 1,964 (2012)
- Cooper Kupp (Rams) -- 1,947 (2021)
- Julio Jones (Falcons) -- 1,871 (2015)
- Jerry Rice (49ers) -- 1,848 (1995)
- Antonio Brown (Steelers) -- 1,834 (2015)
Jefferson is on pace for 2,002 yards this season, which would make him the first 2,000-yard receiver in NFL history (regular season). He'll have to out-duel Tyreek Hill for the honor, as Hill is on pace for 1,877 yards this season -- which would be the third-most in NFL history. The 1,060 receiving yards is the fourth-most for a receiver in the first nine games in the Super Bowl era. Since Jefferson is on pace for 130 catches, that would be sixth-most in a season in NFL history.
The numbers of significance for Jefferson are what he's accomplished through three seasons and how this stacks up with the all-time greats. The pace will be harder in years four through 12, as Rice hits the prime of his superpowers in those seasons.
Jefferson's career will be worth monitoring, as he's off to the best start for a wide receiver ever. Every week, the Vikings receiver seems to find new ways to rewrite the history books.