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Lunchbreak: Justin Jefferson Ranked No. 1 NFL Player 25 & Under by CBS Sports


Justin Jefferson celebrated his 25th birthday 11 days ago.

It's sometimes hard to believe the phenom receiver is still so young, considering the impact he's made on the NFL since Minnesota drafted him 22nd overall in 2020.

Jefferson's résumé jumps off the page, which is why he recently led CBS Sports' list of "Top NFL Players 25 and Under." Cody Benjamin wrote:

"Jets" missed literally 40 [percent] of the 2023 season and still topped 1,000 yards receiving for the fourth time in four years. He remains one of, if not the, toughest wideout to guard in all of football, and his effortless explosion turns routine plays into potential home runs. The undeniable face of the Vikings after less than a half-decade of NFL play, Jefferson is already on a Hall of Fame trajectory.

View photos of Vikings WR Justin Jefferson from the 2023 season.

Benjamin included a whopping nine receivers in his list of 25 under 25, including two in the top five. Ja'Marr Chase, whom Jefferson teamed with at LSU, came in at No. 3.

Injuries dinged his marks in 2022, and quarterback questions may have done the same in 2023, but if there's one wideout capable of approaching Justin Jefferson's sheer big-play sizzle, it's probably his former LSU teammate. His 1,455-yard debut as Joe Burrow's No. 1 proved his game-breaking speed.

Cowboys edge rusher Micah Parsons was No. 2 in Benjamin's rankings, while Lions tackle Penei Sewell and Jets corner Sauce Gardner were Nos. 4 and 5, respectively.

Three receivers in a row filled out Nos. 6, 7 and 8 with Dallas' CeeDee Lamb, Miami's Jaylen Waddle and Detroit's Amon-Ra St. Brown. The other four receivers were Philadelphia's DeVonta Smith (No. 15), New Orleans' Chris Olave (No. 17), New York Jet Garrett Wilson (No. 18) and Los Angeles Ram Puka Nacua (No. 20).

Vikings fans will recognize another name on the list in left tackle Christian Darrisaw, who landed at No. 23. Darrisaw turned 25 on June 2.

One of the most underdiscussed big men in the NFL, the former first-rounder has missed multiple games due to injury each year. When healthy, however, he's been a top-graded pass blocker, helping pave the way for top-tier Kirk Cousins performances under [Head Coach] Kevin O'Connell from 2022-2023.

The division-rival Lions had the most players on Benjamin's list with five. In addition to Sewell and St. Brown, Detroit had defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, tight end Sam LaPorta and running back Jahmyr Gibbs at Nos. 22, 24 and 25, respectively.

Benjamin wrote that Gibbs' "juice as a change-of-pace dual threat gives the already-balanced Lions a home-run threat out of the backfield."

Pro Football Hall of Fame announces 15 recipients of 'Awards of Excellence'

A former Vikings assistant coach is being recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Monte Kiffin is among 15 recipients of this year’s “Awards of Excellence," an honor created in 2022 "to recognize significant contributors to the game."

Kiffin, 84, spent a short stint with the Vikings as a player in 1964 but did not appear in a game. Though his NFL playing career was short-lived, Kiffin went on to enjoy a lengthy coaching career that started at the collegiate level in 1966 (Nebraska).

Chris Doleman, Henry Thomas, and Monte Kiffin
Chris Doleman, Henry Thomas, and Monte Kiffin

He accepted his first NFL coaching job in 1983 as the Packers linebackers coach and in 1986 joined the Vikings in the same capacity, manning the role for two seasons. Kiffin coached linebackers for the Jets in 1990 and then returned to Minnesota in 1991 as the Vikings defensive coordinator; he remained with the team for three more seasons but moved back to linebackers coach from 1992-94.

Kiffin helped lead the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl XXXVII victory in January 2003 as Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator, a position he held from 1996-2008.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame designated three former assistant coaches to receive the 2024 Awards of Excellence: Kiffin, Bill McPherson and Lionel Taylor. Other honorees are below:

Athletic Trainers: Steve Antonopulos, Dean Kleinschmidt and Bill Tessendorf.

Equipment Managers: Bill Hampton, Sr., Don Hewitt and Richard "Dick" Romanski.

Film/Video Directors: Tom Atcheson, Bob McCartney and Dave Levy.

Public Relations Directors: Dan Edwards, Harvey Greene and Frank Ramos.

The Hall of Fame will recognize the 15 Awards of Excellence recipients today in Canton with a luncheon emceed by Hall of Famer Dan Fouts.

Vikings original athletic trainer Fred Zamberletti was posthumously recognized in 2022, and former Vikings assistants Sherman Lewis and Tom Moore were recognized in 2023.