You’d be forgiven if you didn’t think Adam Thielen was the real deal last year.
The then-fourth-year receiver quietly picked up 967 yards—27th in the NFL—on the season, but it seemed that his workload would decrease this year. Stefon Diggs was gimpy with a groin injury for much of last season, and though 2016 first-round pick Laquon Treadwell had only one catch as a rookie, Minnesota would have to feed him the ball more as a sophomore. Who thought an undrafted 27-year-old out of Division II Minnesota State would be more than a feel-good hometown player story?
Well, be advised: Thielen is the real deal. He came into this game with 793 receiving yards on the season, good for third in the NFL, and now trails only Antonio Brown for the league lead (Julio Jones could catch him with a 201-yard game on Monday night, which would be a ridiculous expectation, but … we’re talking about Julio Jones), after terrorizing the Rams on Sunday to the tune of 123 yards on six receptions, including this one:
That play locked in the sixth straight win for the Vikings, a 24-7 romp over the Rams. And though, yes, that touchdown came against rookie corner Dominique Hatfield, who had registered only one tackle for the Rams coming into the game, Thielen hardly had trouble against the rest of the team’s defense. Just look at how he makes Blake Countess bite here:
Coming into today, Thielen ranked eighth in receiving yards over the past two seasons. Think about some of the quarterbacks that throw to the guys on this list: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, et al. Thielen has caught passes from three passers over that stretch: Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, and Shaun Hill. None of those guys burn defenses — but Thielen does.