When the Philadelphia Eagles announced they had selected TCU wide receiver Jalen Raegar with the 21st pick in the draft smiles broke across the faces of the Vikings' upper management — their guy had fallen.
"Make the pick," general manager Rick Spielman shouted with urgency.
"Nice," head coach Mike Zimmer proclaimed as his smile widened.
The Vikings selected LSU receiver and No. 1 pick Joe Burrow's favorite target, Justin Jefferson with the 22nd overall pick, their first of the draft. Many mocks had Jefferson going 21st to the Eagles (or higher) and with a receiver needed after trading Stephon Diggs to the Bills earlier in the offseason (for the pick they used to select Jefferson), it was clear they were excited the LSU product had fallen.
Over halfway through the 2020 season, it has become clear why Zimmer, Spielman, and the Vikings organization were so excited. The 6'1, 205 lb pass-catcher has nabbed 42 receptions for 762 yards through nine games. He has averaged 84.7 yards-per-game and has caught almost 80% of his targets. Jefferson is on pace to catch more passes and rack up more receiving yards as a rookie than Randy Moss and has vaulted himself into the offensive rookie of the year conversation.
Jefferson proving Vikings right:
Jeffersons success may be surprising some, as four wide receivers were taken ahead of him in the 2020 draft, but it is no surprise to the Viking rookie. He told The Zach Gelb Show after the draft he was surprised how far he fell:
“I felt like I was the best receiver in this draft class, and being the fifth receiver off the board, it kind of was a shocker. But also having that on my shoulder going into this next season with Minnesota, I’m definitely excited to show the world what I have.”
Jefferson has slotted into the Vikings offense alongside Adam Thielen and complimenting the now-dominant Dalvin Cook seamlessly. He is broken 100 receiving yards four times through nine games and is creating the same matchup problems Diggs did in his time in Minnesota.Published 20 Nov 2020, 00:24 IST