Lists, lists, and more lists.
The latest was formulated by former NFL running back and NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew. The former Jaguars running back ranks his top 10 QB/WR duos heading into the 2022 NFL season, and this one is getting plenty of reaction.
At first glance, the biggest, most glaring omission from Jones-Drew’s list is the absence of Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson. I know this is a projection list for the upcoming season, but let’s put some respect on this Vikings duo’s names.
Jefferson has already accumulated over 3,000 yards in his first two years in the NFL, which is a record. He also has nearly 200 catches in his first two years, and yes, that’s another record. We can’t overlook the guy throwing him all these passes. I can’t entirely disagree with Cousins being considered a mid-level QB. But some of these other QBs are right there with him.
Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas made Jones-Drew’s list at No. 10, and the latter hasn’t played in almost two years. I’d take Cousins over Winston right now, in all honesty. Cousins has been consistent since joining Minnesota in 2018, throwing 30 or more TDs in three of his four seasons with the team.
Winston will sling the ball and has a big arm, but he’s thrown too many interceptions over the past few years. His best year to date in 2019, he passed for 33 TDs and over 5,100 yards but also had 30 passes picked off. The 30-plus TDs are fantastic, but you can’t throw that many INTs in today’s NFL. Guys get criticized for 15 INTs nowadays, and Winston doubled that.
Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb made the list at No. 7. Another duo I wouldn’t bet on over Cousins/Jefferson. Prescott and Cousins is a wash in my book. If you take the star and the Dallas Cowboys brand away from Dak, he’s viewed in a similar light to Cousins, if he isn’t already.
There’s a lot of fluff in many of Dak’s big statistical games throughout his career. In week 18 last year, Prescott threw five TDs in a 51-26 win over division rival Philadelphia. The Eagles played backup players while Dallas left Dak in the game for the second half, just to break Tony Romo’s record for TD passes (Dak finished with 37) in a season.
Yes, Prescott and the Cowboys made the playoffs while the Vikings sat at home watching, but that isn’t all Cousins’ fault. I refuse to believe the gap between Dak and Kirk is this big. I don’t think CeeDee’s production, even as the No. 1 target in Dallas, will be close enough to Jefferson’s to justify this ranking.
This list isn’t all bad other than No. 10 and No. 7. I’d rank Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs ahead of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase simply because I think they’ll have a better season, but it’s close so that I can deal with it. The only duo listed that we haven’t seen suit up together in the NFL is Derek Carr and Davonte Adams. But they did play at Fresno State together years ago, so their chemistry should come easy.
Also noticeable by their absence here are Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill. If you let Hill tell it, he’s going to be more productive in Miami than he ever dreamed of in Kansas City. While I’m not sure about Tua/Hill as a top 10 duo just yet, Cousins/Jefferson deserved a spot on this list and will show us why this year.
Even if Cousins is considered a fringe top 12-15 QB, Jefferson is on his way to becoming the best WR in the NFL if he posts another record-setting campaign. You can’t have one without the others in a conversation about the best tag teams.