Area No. 5 – First Down Receptions
“Moving the sticks” is a crucial element to the evaluation of a wide receiver (or any skill player) because it indicates how frequently the player is helping to move the team’s offense down the field. This mentality is often why teams with the best 3rd down conversion–on offense and defense–tend to be playoff-bound.
In the past four seasons, Adam Thielen has been responsible for 199 Vikings first downs, which leads the team. Diggs has moved the sticks 188 times. For Thielen in this regard, it ranks 12th in NFL among wide receivers; Diggs is four spots lower at 16th. Most notably, Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, and Travis Kelce led all pass-catchers in first downs via reception since 2016.
For comparison’s sake, between the years of 1994 and 1997, Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter accounted for 254 first downs while teammate Jake Reed notched 225 first downs. Head coach Dennis Green liked to throw the football. Current coach Mike Zimmer does so to a lesser degree.