In 2020, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson set a new rookie record by racking up 1,400 receiving yards, and was so good, so quickly that he was named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro. In 2021, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase broke Jefferson's record after just one year by racking up 1,455 receiving yards, and was so good, so quickly that he was named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro.
The pair are now universally considered to be among the best wide receivers in the NFL -- without the necessity for a qualifier like "best young wide receivers." Earlier this offseason, Jefferson declared Las Vegas Raiders wideout Davante Adams the best in the league, but made it known that he was by the end of the 2022 campaign.
According to Chase, though, Jefferson has another player to pass on his way to the top of the receiver rankings: Chase. The Bengals star told CBS Sports HQ last week that he's already the better player than his former LSU teammate, for a very simple reason:
Chase acknowledged that Jefferson would likely disagree and say he was superior to Chase, but Chase reasserted his relative superiority to Jefferson this week in a conversation with NBC Sports, though, he too, stopped short of declaring himself better than Adams.
I said to him pre-practice: "You want to be the best, don't you?"
"That's my goal," Chase said.
"What about you against [former LSU mate] Justin Jefferson?"
"I'm better than Justin."
"I don't know if I'm better … but I watch his film all the time. He told me he watches my film. That's definitely something to keep me working."
Adams is coming off a four-season run in Green Bay during which he averaged 108 catches for 1,327.5 yards and 11.8 touchdowns despite missing an average of two games per season. He's transitioning to a new team, new system, and new (for his NFL career) quarterback, however, so it remains to be seen if he can put up similar numbers. Jefferson and Chase have shown the ability to reach similar heights as Adams, but for a shorter period of time.
Doing it year in and year out is how you get people to acknowledge that you truly are the best in the game, though, and that's the logical next step for each young star.