Two Vikings Make ESPN’s List of Best NFL Players Under 25
Some of the best player’s into today’s NFL are among the youngest in the league. This is especially so due to historically great draft classes in both 2020 and 2021. The Minnesota Vikings have certainly benefited from this pool of young talent, and because of that, they have had two players named to ESPN‘s list of best NFL players under 25 years of age.
Those two players are, of course, LT Christian Darrisaw and WR Justin Jefferson. Justin Jefferson actually comes in ranked No. 2 on the list after playing at an outstanding level through his first 2+ seasons. He already has the record for most receiving yards through a player’s first three NFL seasons after another outstanding showing on Thanksgiving.
He’s now up to 277 receptions, 4248 receiving yards, and 22 receiving TDs through his first 44 NFL games. Here’s what Matt Bowan had to say about the star wide receiver:
“A true difference-maker in the Vikings’ offense, Jefferson has the ability to take over games. We can look at the savvy route-running traits, the vertical juice or the ability to make contested catches. He wins at every level of the field. And with three straight seasons of over 1,000 yards receiving, Jefferson is already one of the league’s best at the position. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he has made 23.5 receptions over expectation during his career, and his 4,248 receiving yards tops the NFL since 2020 by more than 300.“Matt Bowan on Justin Jefferson
The only player ahead of Jefferson is Cowboys LB Micah Parsons, who is also setting an historic pace for himself. On Thanksgiving, he joined Reggie White and Aldon Smith as the only players since 1982 to record 12+ sacks in each of their first two NFL seasons. His 25.0 total sacks since the start of 2021 are the 10th most all-time for a player’s first two seasons.
There’s a case for Jefferson to be No. 1 given the start to his career, but both he and Parsons have been incredible early on.
However, the player that seems to be disrespected a little bit on this list is left tackle Christian Darrisaw. He is listed No. 23 on this list, and he is the fifth offensive tackle. The offensive tackles listed above the 23-year-old tackle are as follows:
- Penei Sewell
- Rashawn Slater
- Andrew Thomas
- Tristan Wirfs
Granted, Darrisaw’s career got off to a slower start than the others as he missed five games of his rookie season. He’s also missed time this year due to concussions in back-to-back weeks.
However, when he’s been on the field, Darrisaw has proven to be one of the best offensive linemen in the entire NFL. Following Week 11, the last time he played, Darrisaw was PFF‘s highest graded offensive lineman in the league. Here’s what Bowan said about the Vikings left tackle:
Darrisaw has the traits to develop into one of the league’s top players at the left tackle position. He’s an easy mover who can smoothly climb to the second level in the run game, with the body control and lateral foot quickness to match pass-rushers. Darrisaw has registered a pass block win rate of 86% this season, up from 77.6% in his rookie year, and he has allowed just one sack in 2022.Matt Bowan on Christian Darrisaw
No disagreements here. Especially this season, Darrisaw has proven he can be the cornerstone of the Vikings offensive line, and Minnesota should feel very lucky to have been able to snag him with the 23rd overall pick in 2021.
Regardless, the Vikings certainly have a number of talented young players to build upon for the future. This has helped them build a 9-2 record in 2022 and should lead to much more success in future seasons.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.