Justin Jefferson is a special player.
That much has been demonstrated over the Vikings past two games, during which he's totaled 278 yards and a touchdown on just 11 catches, averaging 25.3 yards per reception.
Through the first four games of the season, Jefferson's average of 21.8 yards per catch ranks third in the NFL behind Seattle's DK Metcalf and Pittsburgh's Chase Claypool. Jefferson's eight catches of 20-plus yards are tied with former Viking Stefon Diggs (Bills) for No. 1 in the league.
ESPN writers and analysts – Jeff Legwold, Matt Bowen, Mike Clay, Mina Kimes, Kevin Seifert and Field Yates – recently ranked the 2020 NFL rookies, and they slated Jefferson at No. 2 overall behind Bengals QB Joe Burrow. ESPN wrote:
After finishing with 26 and 44 receiving yards in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively, Jefferson has since gone for 175 and 103 in back-to-back games, averaging at least 25 yards per catch in each of those games. He has consistently shown in the early-going he can beat man coverage even when opposing defensive backs try to get physical with him.
Coming in at No. 3 in the rookie rankings is a name Vikings fans are familiar with: safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. The son of the former Vikings cornerback was a standout at the University of Minnesota before being drafted 45th overall by the Buccaneers.
Winfield has 25 tackles, 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble through four games for Tampa Bay.
Just ask the Broncos how versatile Winfield is. In the Buccaneers Week 3 win in Denver, Winfield had six tackles, a sack, another quarterback hurry and knocked a pass down. He has played all but one snap for the Buccaneers defense through four games, and [Bucs Defensive Coordinator] Todd Bowles has already found a significant role for him in the team's blitz packages.
ESPN's top five rookies through Week 4 were Burrow, Jefferson, Winfield, Jets T Mekhi Becton and Chargers QB Justin Herbert. To see the full breakdown, click here.
Cook tabbed in Carr's Week 5 offensive player rankings
After his 130-yard, two-touchdown performance at Houston, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook took the NFL lead in rushing yards (424) and scores (six) through the first quarter of the season.
Cook continues to impress pundits across the league, and this week he was included in David Carr's offensive player rankings. The QB-turned-analyst looks at all offensive players heading into each weekend's slate of games and tabs the top 15. Carr wrote the following of Cook, whom he placed 14th overall:
The Minnesota Vikings have started to use their star running back more over the last few weeks – with 140-plus scrimmage yards in each of the last two games – and the offense has performed much better as a result. Dalvin Cook was a home-run hitter early in his career, but he's developed more crust around the pie edges since. He's running with more power, can turn a nothing gain into a 5-yard run, excels in goal-line situations and plays a major role in the passing game. He's the perfect fit in Gary Kubiak's offense. Minnesota just needs to continue to use him.
Cook has six touchdowns heading into Week 5, when he will face a Seahawks defense that ranks third against the run.
Seattle also has plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball, as Vikings fans well know. In fact, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson topped Carr's list.
Russell Wilson is, hands down, the best player a quarter of the way into the 2020 NFL season. The MVP candidate is at his peak in terms of mental awareness – operating at Tom Brady /Peyton Manning levels – and his physical ability is elite. Wilson has been an underrated player over the last few seasons, with the Seahawks generally being middle-of-the-road through the season and getting hot late. This year, all eyes are on Wilson after his record-setting 4-0 start – the last time Seattle started 4-0 was in 2013, when it won the Super Bowl – but he's always been this player.
Carr's full rankings were as follows: Wilson, QB Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs), QB Lamar Jackson (Ravens), QB Aaron Rodgers (Packers), RB Alvin Kamara (Saints), QB Josh Allen (Bills), RB Aaron Johnson (Packers), TE George Kittle (49ers), RB Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys), TE Travis Kelce (Chiefs), WR DeAndre Hopkins (Cardinals), Diggs, QB Dak Prescott (Cowboys), Cook, RB Derrick Henry (Titans).