EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson was again named the best non-quarterback in football. This time by ESPN.
The rankings are made by "a panel of dozens of ESPN NFL experts" who rated players based on performance expectations for the 2023 season.
On Jefferson, ESPN wrote:
Jefferson has surpassed a significant statistical milestone in each of his first three NFL seasons, moving from 1,400 receiving yards to 1,600 to 1,800. That makes his 2023 goal clear and within reach. If he hits 2,000 receiving yards, he'll break the NFL regular-season record held by Calvin Johnson (1,964).
Signature stat: Jefferson has the most receiving yards (4,825) by a player in his first three seasons in NFL history. Randy Moss (4,163) is second.
What they are saying: "There's certain types of players you want around. Players who love football, are great at football, make their teammates better, have that winning spirit. I'll never forget when I first talked to him, when I first met him; he just talked about winning, and that's all you want around you." -- Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah
ESPN projected Jefferson to finish with 116 receptions for 1,498 yards and nine touchdowns.
Jefferson has had more than 1,600 receiving yards and 100-plus receptions each of the past two seasons. ESPN's projection would've pegged Jefferson as the league's fourth-leading receiver last season. He lead the league in receptions (128) and yards (1,809) last season.
Vikings pass rusher Danielle Hunter ranked 81st. ESPN projects Hunter to have 63 tackles and 10 sacks this season.
Hunter returned from two injury-filled years to dominate last season, earning a raise for 2023 and giving him a guaranteed path to free agency next spring if he wants it. He will be highly motivated this season and in a position to capitalize on the pass-rush creativity of new defensive coordinator Brian Flores.
Signature stat: Hunter led the Vikings with 10.5 sacks last season.
What they are saying: "I see him fitting in as an every-down player. ... He brings an element of, at least from a pass-rush standpoint, an element of, you know you feel good in 1-on-1 situations, and inevitably if we're doing well in 1-on-1 situations, the hope is they add someone else. ... But having a player like Danielle, no one's upset about it." — Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores
Cousins was ranked 94th, which was 52 spots lower than his No. 42 ranking in the NFL Top 100.
Click here to read more on Cousins and for ESPN's complete rankings.
NFF to Present Hagan with Hartman Media Award
Former Vikings Public Relations Director Bob Hagan has been named this year's recipient of the Sid Hartman Media Award by the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation.
"When you ask people about NFL public relations professionals who have made a lasting impact on the league, Bob Hagan is one of the first names you'll hear. He is incredibly connected, respected and accomplished. Hagan fostered professional relationships with the media and helped them do their jobs at a high level," Todd Fultz, President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation, said in a press release. "We are very excited to honor Hagan's substantial career accomplishments during our Minnesota Football Honors broadcast."
Hagan worked in public relations for the Vikings for 32 seasons (1991-2022), developing a wonderful relationship with Hartman and ascending from an internship to becoming Vice President of Football Communications. He remains a consultant with the team.
Beyond his work with the Vikings, Hagan assisted the NFL PR staff for 19 Super Bowls and served on the Super Bowl LII Communications Committee.
"It is really a great honor to receive this award because I grew up reading Sid's column, listening to him on the radio and then I got a job with the Vikings in 1991. It was very short order into my career that I became close with him and even more close as the years went by," Hagan told the NFF. "It is quite an honor to get an award named after a great friend of yours. It's pretty special."
The Sid Hartman Media Award honors the Twin Cities legend who worked in the market for more than 75 years. Minnesota Football Honors is hosting a show to honor this year's high school, college and Minnesota Vikings award winners. Full broadcast details, including a television airing date, will be announced at minnesotafootballhonors.com.