It’s been a number of years since the Minnesota Vikings have had a big-name receiver linked to their franchise. If the first four games are any indication, the wait may finally be over… and they’ve been doubly-blessed.
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have been terrorizing opposing secondaries throughout the first four weeks of 2017 and are the top receiving duo in the NFL. While Diggs has built his reputation gradually over his first two years, Thielen had been more under-the-radar up until last season.
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Through the first four weeks of the season, Stefon Diggs leads the league with 391 receiving yards and is tied for second with four touchdowns, already matching his career-high from his rookie year in 2015.
On the other side, Adam Thielen is showing that his surprising 2016 campaign was no illusion. He’s third in the NFL with 358 yards and he’s making it very difficult for opponents to plan against Diggs and tight end, Kyle Rudolph, without paying a price.
Both of these young men are on a torrid pace for over 1,000 yards apiece as they have jumped to the head of the line in the Vikings reborn passing attack. It’s been more than a decade since the Vikings had two 1,000-yard receivers, and nearly a decade since they’ve had even one. The last one? Sidney Rice in 2009. The last time they’ve had two in the same season? 2000. Those receivers? Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter and future Hall of Famer Randy Moss.
Unlike the three players they follow, these newest Viking receivers come from different pedigrees. Diggs was a fifth round draft pick out of Maryland in 2015, coming off a career that was held back by injuries. Once he got into the lineup, he would never leave it as he exploded onto the scene with six catches for 87 yards versus the Denver Broncos in his 2015 debut. With his combination of size, speed, quickness, and talent, he’s proving to be one of the most complete receivers in the game today.
Thielen’s story is even more profound. In his fourth year out of Minnesota State, he wasn’t even drafted after his final year in college and had to make the Vikings team as an undrafted free agent in 2014. After spending two seasons almost exclusively on special teams, Thielen worked his way into the starting role opposite of Diggs (beating out last year’s first-round pick, Laquon Treadwell, in the process) during the course of 2016 and finished the year with a team-high 967 yards receiving. He was rewarded in the offseason with a three-year (with fourth-year option), $19 million contract extension.
The duo has so far lived up to, and even surpassed, expectations set by most analysts heading into this season. They’ve looked almost unstoppable at times (refer to weeks one and three for evidence) as they now look to spread their reputations beyond the confines of Minnesota to the rest of the NFL. If they can sustain the pace they’ve established early in the year, this ‘Dynamic Duo’ will soon have the league-wide notoriety that will strike fear into opposing secondaries and defensive coordinators everywhere.