Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson is the best in football for a lot of reasons.
The Star Tribune's Chip Scoggins interviewed Minnesota natives Larry Fitzgerald and Eric Decker to learn more about what makes Jefferson so special.
On Fitzgerald and Jefferson, Scoggins wrote:
Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., was one of the best in NFL history in this area. The Hall of Fame should include a replica of his hands along with his bust when he's inducted on the first ballot. In his 17-year career, Fitzgerald dropped a pass about as often as Halley's Comet comes into view.
So, Larry, what goes into having great hands?
"It's a skill that's developed over time," Fitzgerald told Scoggins. "Just repetition. I always had a really good skillset on catching it, but it's something I always worked tirelessly to improve."
Fitzgerald used to stick his hands in a bucket of rice and do different movements to strengthen his fingers and forearms.
"When you catch it, guys always try to [chop] down on your hands," Fitzgerald said. "Or they will hit you in the back to jolt you. Strong to the catch is one thing, but then guys are trying to knock the ball out, so you have to catch it strong and get it to the tuck."
Scoggins said Decker relied on his hand size and baseball background to become an elite receiver. Baseball helped Decker track the football, which is something Decker said Jefferson is excellent at.
"It made you focus on the ball and be super intentional about watching all the way into your hands," Decker said.
Receivers refer to that as "tracking" the ball. Guys with great hands typically track the ball with their eyes to their hands.
"They have a saying in baseball: You can't hit what you can't see," Decker said. "You can't catch what you can't see also."
Jefferson and Fitzgerald are two of the best Decker has ever seen at tracking.
"It's easy when a ball is thrown to your chest or in front of your face," Decker said. "Once that ball gets above your head and you've got to track it or if you're running down the sideline and it's over the shoulder, it's hard for a lot of guys to track the ball. A lot of guys, their eyes stay put. They just put their hands somewhere. If you watch Jefferson — and [Adam] Thielen is really good at this — you can see in slow motion, their eyes are tracking all the way to their hands."
The Athletic Forecasts Vikings 53-man roster
Cut day in the NFL is near. By 3 p.m. (CT) Tuesday, each team must trim its 90- or 91-man roster down to 53 players.
The Athletic's Alec Lewis forecasted the Vikings' 53-man roster. The list includes the Vikings keeping three quarterbacks, nine offensive linemen and eight defensive backs.
In total, Lewis deemed 48 players as safe from being cut. Lewis highlighted the final five roster spots and broke down potential "bubble" players.
On wide receiver Brandon Powell, Lewis wrote:
If you've read this space over the last few weeks, you know the type of impression Powell has made. He arrived in Minnesota with knowledge of O'Connell's system, and the transition has been seamless. He rarely drops passes. He is a willing blocker. He returns punts. His skill set and reliability give him a great chance of securing a roster spot.
The Vikings have a deep receiver room. Jalen Reagor and Trishton Jackson were also mentioned as bubble players. Sticking with the offense, Lewis made a case for running back Kene Nwangwu as well.
Lewis wrote about 11 defensive players, starting with linebacker Troy Dye and cornerback NaJee Thompson:
Last year, Dye participated in 67 percent of the Vikings' special teams snaps. He clearly impacted games on that side, and for as boring as it may be, O'Connell and his staff still believe special teams success is a key contributor to winning games in the margins. Dye also secured an interception last weekend against the Titans.
[Ivan Pace, Jr.,] has gotten heaps of praise for being an impressive undrafted rookie, but Thompson has held his own, too. The Georgia Southern product was an impressive special-teamer, and many NFL teams noticed. Thompson entered the concussion protocol after Saturday night's game, but if he's healthy, the Vikings may be compelled to add him to their special teams unit as a gunner.
Click here to read The Athletic's full 53-man roster prediction.