The wide receiver rankings are in.
Analytics site Pro Football Focus has been rolling out rankings of individual position groups, and Sam Monson recently tackled the league’s top wideouts.
Interestingly, Monson slated Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson at No. 2 on the list behind Davante Adams. Though virtually anyone could make a case for Jefferson to be No. 1, here is what Monson had to say:
I'm not sure you can say Jefferson is better than Davante Adams, but he's joined him atop the mountain. Jefferson is second to Adams in a whole variety of categories since entering the league and has been phenomenally productive for the Vikings in his young career. He is an outstanding route runner, can win contested catches and already has one of the greatest catches in NFL history on his résumé — a fourth-and-18, one-handed snag against Buffalo.
View the best photos of Vikings WR Justin Jefferson during the 2022 season.
Since Adams no longer is with the division-rival Packers, Minnesota won't face him twice a year. The Vikings are slated to play him this season, though, when they visit Las Vegas Week 14.
The masses think Justin Jefferson is the best receiver in the NFL, but I see no white towel thrown in on Adams' career. Last season, his first without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, Adams caught 100 passes for 1,516 yards and 14 touchdowns, six more than Jefferson. He averaged 2.45 yards per route run, and over the past three seasons he leads the NFL in PFF receiving grade (94.5) and yards per route run (2.67), with Jefferson placing second in each category. Adams remains the king of receivers until somebody topples him.
Monson's top receivers were Adams, Jefferson, Tyreek Hill (Dolphins), Ja'Marr Chase (Bengals) and Stefon Diggs (Bills).
The Vikings won't see Hill or Diggs during the regular season but could have their hands full with Chase in Week 15, right after game-planning for Adams.
Monson wrote that although "Chase didn't quite replicate the crazy performance of his rookie season in 2022," he did demonstrate "he can be just as effective without the element of surprise, even if some of the unsustainable big plays went away."
Passes thrown toward Chase over his first two seasons in the league are generating Joe Burrow a 112.4 passer rating, and that number actually went up to 118.2 during the playoffs last season. Chase is a dominant receiver and is just getting started.
Click here to see Monson's full receiver rankings.
Mark Craig delves into Jacky Chen's unique football journey
Among the Vikings undrafted free agents this spring is a young man with quite the unique journey to the NFL.
Minnesota signed Jacky Chen, listed at 6-foot-4 and 302 pounds, out of Pace University, a Division-II school based in New York City, after the 2023 NFL Draft. Mark Craig of the Star Tribune spoke to Chen during the Vikings rookie minicamp and on Tuesday posted an in-depth feature on the offensive lineman. Craig wrote:
Ask Jacky or his mother or anybody else who knows him, and they will tell you Jacky's unlikely football journey never would have begun — let alone reached the NFL as an undrafted Vikings rookie — had Jacky not been a very "sneaky little boy" with a mother dead set against him playing football seven years ago.
"He tricked me to play football," Jacky's mother, June, told Craig.
View photos of the 15 undrafted free agents the Vikings have agreed to terms with following the 2023 NFL Draft.
Craig noted that June and her husband, Tony, were born in Beijing, China, and immigrated to the United States in 1994 to open a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. Jacky and his older sister Rita both were born in the U.S.
Rita swam so well that the University of Maine gave her a scholarship. Jackie loved football, played "Madden" every day and still spent seven years in a pool doing the breaststroke because it was safer than football and easier for June to drop both kids off at the same place after school.
One day, Jacky told June he was "retiring" from swimming. She asked how he planned to spend his after-school hours. His answer? You guessed it. Football.
June told Jacky "no," because she was concerned about injuries from the contact sport, but Jacky said, "I wanted to play football so bad, I had to do something. Whatever it took."
Jacky had the Port Jefferson football permission slip in hand. He waited for a moment when June was distracted. He gave her the slip. Literally and figuratively.
"I said, 'Mom, you got to sign this,' " Jacky told Craig. "I said, 'It's for a field trip.' "
Two weeks later, June asked Jacky where he's been after school.
Jacky fessed up. He told her he had been at football practice. He said his father "was cool with it." June softened because Jacky, "that sneaky little boy, just loves football so, so much." She even went to one of his high school games.
"I grew up in China; it's not our culture, so when I watch the game, I didn't understand," June said. "This sport, it's crazy."
Click here to read Craig's deep-dive feature on Chen in its entirety.