Underrated. Minnesota Vikings’ wide receiver Justin Jefferson flew slightly under the radar amongst both NFL scouts and franchises leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft.
The fifth WR selected in April’s draft and No. 22-overall, Mr. Jefferson isn’t playing like it. He’s suiting up and going to work as if he was the first wideout taken off the board. While four teams lost out, the Vikings gained a pass-catching machine.
The Justin Jefferson Show
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 16, 2020
Justin Jefferson is making his presence felt and putting the back end of NFL defenses on high alert. At 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds from Saint Lake, LA, this young 21-year-old pup played his college pigskin in his home state at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
My pick for NFL offensive rookie of the year (OROY), Jefferson made the decision to forgo his senior season with the LSU Tigers to run routes at the highest level. In my article from last week, I tagged defensive end Chase Young of the Washington Football Team as my defensive rookie of the year (DROY). Although they play on different sides of the pigskin, both gentlemen left their final year of college behind to join the Big Boy’s League.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 22, 2020
For Justin Jefferson, he had nothing left to prove at LSU. Going out on top with a 2019 CFP National Championship as a member of the Bayou Bengals, Mr. Jefferson led the country with 111 receptions. Wow.
Add 18 trips to the heezy (touchdowns) that ranked second in America for 1,540 yards (third in the country), and you can certainly understand why Justin Jefferson was a first-round draft pick. Why he was the fifth-overall WR taken, we’ll never know.
I don’t necessarily disagree with those who believe quarterback Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers should take home OROY honors. Herbert has no doubt slung it around the lot as a rookie, but Mr. Jefferson is flat ballin’ out on a 6-8 Minnesota squad that still has a chance, albeit small, to make the 2020 playoffs.
Here’s a look at the WRs selected ahead of Justin Jefferson in round one of the draft.
- No. 12-overall) Las Vegas Raiders — Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
- No. 15-overall) Denver Broncos — Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
- No. 17-overall) Dallas Cowboys — CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
- No. 21-overall) Philadelphia Eagles — Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
As aforementioned above, Justin Jefferson waited his turn to be taken No. 22-overall out of LSU. It was a golden ticket for the Vikings’ franchise and a much-needed offensive weapon for QB Kirk Cousins. Mr. Jefferson gives Cousins another legitimate target in Minnesota’s passing attack alongside two-time Pro Bowler (2017, 2018) and second-team All-Pro (2017) WR Adam Thielen.
Running back Dalvin “Purple Blur” Cook is the centerpiece to making the Vikings’ passing attack elite. Mr. Cook’s success on the ground behind Minnesota’s “Big Uglies” (offensive line) allows their air assault to tick. Dalvin’s NFL MVP-caliber success this season has created play-action pass opportunities galore.
Justin Jefferson happens to be the beneficiary of the Vikings’ play-action prowess. Studying Mr. Jefferson’s game film, he excels at running crisp crossing patterns across the middle of the field. In doing so, Minnesota’s offensive game plan puts Jefferson in prime position to beat his defender in one-on-one matchup situations.
It’s safe to say that Justin Jefferson has thrived running crossing routes off play-action. That’s not all this young stud can do. He has the speed to run past cornerbacks on go routes and has a lethal first-step from the snap of the pigskin. This allows Mr. Jefferson to employ his exceptional route running abilities into every route combination in the tree.
Stellar hands, tremendous ball skills, and bedazzling open-field moves have given Justin Jefferson the attention he deserves as a rookie wideout.
Hauling in 73 laced pigskins for 1,182 yards and seven TDs through Week 15 is pretty dad-gum good, my friends. Jefferson’s 16.2 yards per catch average isn’t too bad either. One last thing before I wrap an enormous Christmas bow on this piece.
Let’s just say that Jefferson is spittin’ lyrics like the hip-hop group Outkast with, “Glitter, glisten, gloss, floss, I catch a beat running like Randy Moss.”
Jefferson now owns the record for receptions in a single-season by a Minnesota Vikings’ receiver with those 73 snares, passing all-time great Randy Moss’ 69 catches as a rookie in 1998. Mr. Jefferson, fresh off of being named to the Pro Bowl himself, is just 132 yards away from eclipsing Randy’s 1,313 receiving yards total back in ’98 with two regular-season games remaining. Extraordinary.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) December 23, 2020
Justin Jefferson is my choice for NFL OROY.
Until next week, be smart, stay safe, and stay healthy. Merry Christmas.