Stefon Diggs’ Hot Start Could Mean He Is Minnesota Vikings Best Receiver Since Randy Moss

It’s no longer a secret that Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs is good at playing football. The second-year receiver out of The University of Maryland came into last season with relatively low expectations as a fifth-round pick, but now may be the Vikings biggest offensive weapon due to Adrian Peterson‘s injury.

Stefon Diggs’ Hot Start Could Mean He Is Minnesota Vikings Best Receiver Since Randy Moss

Despite being inactive for the first three games of his rookie year, Diggs took advantage of every opportunity he had. On Oct. 4, 2015 Diggs emerged after getting his first start against the Denver Broncos as Charles Johnson was out with a rib injury. He finished the game with six receptions for 87 yards on 10 targets (per Pro-Football Reference), and burned the Bronco’s elite defense several times.  

Against the Kansas City Chiefs, one week later, Diggs had his first 100-yard game, amassing seven receptions for 129 yards on nine targets. Then, in just his third game against the Detroit Lions, Diggs picked up 108 yards and his first touchdown, which was a brilliant 36-yard catch. To score the touchdown Diggs extended for the ball after a well-executed double move. Diggs’ fourth game, at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears, saw him tie the game with less than two minutes remaining after a 40-yard catch-and-run. That play gave Diggs 95 receiving yards on the day.

Stefon Diggs vs. Randy Moss

Through those first four games, Diggs averaged 105-yards per game and 16.8 yards per catch. Randy Moss averaged16.1 yards per catch and 68-yards per game in his first four games. While Diggs trailed off by the end of the year, he finished his rookie campaign with 52 catches, 720 yards (13.9 yards-per-catch), and four scores. Moss had 69 catches (on 40 more targets) for 1,313 yards (19 yards per catch) and 17 touchdowns. Moss had a stronger rookie year compared to Diggs, but he also had more opportunities.

Never satisfied, Diggs has repeatedly stated he wants more from himself, and it has translated on the field. After a strong off-season in 2015, Diggs had an even better training camp this year, a feat many would have thought impossible. 

In Week one against the Tennessee Titans, Diggs racked up more than a hundred yards with quarterback Shaun Hill throwing him the ball. He could have even had another 30 yards and a score if not for a miss-fire by Hill. During Sunday Night Football, in the Vikings home opener against the rival Green Bay Packers, Diggs had a ridiculous nine catches for 182 yards and a touchdown. That was with quarterback Sam Bradford, making his first start in purple, tossing the ball. 

After the 14-17 victory against the Packers and with Peterson’s torn meniscus, Diggs has the opportunity to cement himself as the top offensive weapon on the Vikings. Throughout the game, Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels raved over Diggs, even going so far as to jokingly compare him to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. While such comparisons may be premature, Diggs is clearly a superstar in the making, and without a doubt the biggest draft day steal at wide-out since the aforementioned Brown.

Defying History

Looking back at the receivers the Vikings have drafted since Moss, a strong case could be made that Diggs is the best of the bunch. Nate Burleson, a third-round pick in 2003, only had 455 yards and two scores his first year. Although he did have a 1,000-yard season his second year with Daunte Culpepper as the signal caller, Burleson never reached 900 yards again after that season. The next wide receiver drafted by the Vikings was notorious bust Troy Williamson. After that, Sidney Rice was taken in the second round of the 2007 draft. Rice had a nice year in 2009 with Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre at the helm, but Favre is far superior to Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who was the Vikings signal caller in 2015.

Aundrae Allison, Chandler Williams and Jaymar Johnson were all late round picks with little production. The next big name receiver drafted by the Vikings was Percy Harvin, who, although he had a few good years in Minnesota, was ultimately a disappointment after being the 2009 Rookie of the Year. Jarius Wright, drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, earned a second contract in Minnesota, but has been beaten out by local man and former undrafted free agent, Adam Thielen. Greg Childs, who had tremendous potential, never played a down due to a devastating injury suffered during his first training camp. The last wide receiver drafted by the Vikings before Diggs? Cordarrelle Patterson, a talented kick returner who has been unable to make the impact on offense that is expected from a first round pick. 

Lofty Expectations

This year, Diggs could easily break 1,000 yards. This holds true given the Vikings quarterback situation because regardless of who is playing quarterback, Diggs is the best offensive weapon, especially with Adrian Peterson injured. Diggs’ 285 receiving yards currently lead the league, putting him on pace for well over 2,000. While this is an unrealistic expectation, 1300-1600 looks quite attainable. If Bradford can replicate the production he had in Week two, 10 touchdowns is not unrealistic either.

Expect 2016 to be the first of many big years by Diggs, a fifth-round pick, now the number one wide receiver and budding superstar for the defending NFC North Division champions.

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