Dear Rick Spielman, Justin Jefferson Was a Great Pick

Photo: Hannah Foslien – Getty Images

During the 2020 NFL Draft, toward the end of the 1st round, the Minnesota Vikings used two picks to fill two newly vacated starter positions on both sides of the ball. Last week, I undressed Rick Spielman for not using the latter of those picks on former Gopher, Antoine Winfield Jr, who won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for September.

While Spielman deserves criticism when he sucks at his job, he also deserves praise when he hits, like he seems to have on LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The Vikings took Jefferson with their first pick (#22 overall) of that same draft. Philadelphia deserves an assist, too.

Justin Jefferson / Randy Moss Comparisons

After two weeks of hiding JJ on the sidelines, he’s been unleashed in weeks 3 and 4. The results have been the best rookie ball I’ve seen from a Vikings wide receiver, since Randy Moss. I know Stefon Diggs had a big start to his rookie year too, but he didn’t even get on the field until week 4, didn’t get his first 100 yard game until week 5, and didn’t find the endzone until week 7. In total, Stefon Diggs recorded 4 touchdowns and 720 yards in 2015, his rookie season.

It isn’t about two big games in a row for JJ. If it was, the stats speak for themselves. It’s what Justin Jefferson has shown us, with just “the eye test”, in the last two weeks of play (see above) that is so impressive. He shows ball skills and route running that most rookies do not possess and he has the natural receiver brain and athleticism to go with it. The timing, the break and the angles on his routes are all beyond his years.

Different, but not…

For Moss, we were blown away by his pure freak athleticism, which was perfectly paired with the best concentration in the history of the position. He’d run by defenders to start drives and catch everything over the top, to close them out.

It’s possible that nobody, including Justin Jefferson, will ever shock the NFL and put a professional league on notice like Randy Moss did back in the fall of 1998, JJ has already shown that he holds all of the tools needed to be a top receiver in the NFL for a decade. The young man out of LSU agrees and so does his quarterback, Kirk Cousins.

Building Self-Confidence and Teammate Trust

The Minnesota Vikings had a lot of needs entering the 2020 NFL Draft and many fans/experts (what’s the difference?) didn’t think wide receiver was high enough on the priority list, to spend their first overall pick on. The line has been terrible for what feels like a century and the entire starting secondary left in the offseason.

But… I don’t think anyone is complaining tonight. Nope. Tonight, we drink to the only bright spots we’ve had so far during the 2020 Vikings season. A possible superstar rookie WR and (more importantly), their first win.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan