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Justin Jefferson could be the GOAT, but it will take a while

At least one source thinks he’s got a shot, though

New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

At the risk of entering “old man yells at cloud” territory, it seems like everyone today is always looking for the next big thing and is ready to declare just about anyone the GOAT. . .or the Greatest Of All Time. Becoming the GOAT. . .which is certainly preferable to becoming a GOAT, one would think. . .takes a great deal of time and a whole lot of things breaking correctly.

Behind the great E$PN paywall, Bill Barnwell is taking a look at a handful of NFL players to see if they have a chance of becoming the GOAT at their specific position. His selection for the wide receiver spot? None other than current Minnesota Vikings star Justin Jefferson.

Now, even though a lot of us are biased towards Randy Moss, Barnwell does this comparison to Jerry Rice, who pretty much everyone outside of Minnesota considers to be the best wide receiver of all time. Barnwell says that Jefferson is the only receiver he feels comfortable putting up as a candidate after the way he’s performed in his first three NFL seasons.

Here’s what Jefferson would have to do, at least in part, to supplant Rice at the top of the hill:

Jefferson, who will be playing his age-24 season in 2023, still has so much more work to do to stay aligned with Rice, let alone surpass the legendary wideout. After an Offensive Player of the Year season a year ago, he now has averaged 1,608 receiving yards a year. If things break right and he is somehow able to both stay healthy and keep up that level of production on an annual basis, he would need to sustain that level of play for 12 more seasons to beat Rice. If he slows down, he’ll need to continue playing into his late 30s and possibly even into his 40s to chase down Rice.

Barnwell points out that Jefferson has some advantages as well, including getting a 17th (and possibly, eventually, an 18th) regular season game. He also plays in a more pass-friendly era than Rice does and, at least as long as he’s in Minnesota, will get a minimum of nine games a season indoors (counting his annual trip to Detroit).

Even with all that, Barnwell gives Jefferson just a 1% chance of being the GOAT when it comes to wide receivers. That’s not a great chance, but it’s a much better chance than any other current NFL receiver currently has, apparently.