Justin Jefferson was the fifth wide receiver taken in the 2020 NFL Draft and he’s made himself clear that he feels he should have been drafted earlier.
“Every single person that picked a receiver instead of me are going to pay,” Jefferson said in a post draft interview on the Zach Gelb Show in 2020. “I’m going to show them that I am the better receiver than the pick that they had.”
This is a strategy that many draftees use if they feel as if they slid further down in the draft than expected. Although many players say things like this after the draft, it doesn’t always translate on the football field.
That wasn’t the case for Jefferson in 2020, as he proved that he was the best wide receiver in his class. After not starting until the third week of the regular season, Jefferson still managed to haul in 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns.
These numbers were enough to break the record for most yards by a rookie wide receiver in NFL history. The record was originally set by Anquan Boldin in 2003 and he also broke several team records that were set by Randy Moss.
Not only did Jefferson put up freakishly good rookie numbers, but he was also one of the highest rated receivers across the NFL. His 90.4 PFF grade was ranked second amongst all wide receivers in 2020, meaning he was one of the best of the best on more than just the rookie scale.
Throw in an additional game in the 2021 regular season and there’s no reason to expect Jefferson to have any sort of sophomore slump. He’s going up against a better Vikings defense in practices and was even calling out a potential future Hall of Famer in Patrick Peterson throughout OTAs and minicamp.
Jefferson is still using his doubters as motivation even after a record setting rookie season, something he’s already done throughout his short NFL career. Lighting a fire in one of the top receivers from a year ago doesn’t seem like the best idea for the rest of the NFL, but maybe they just want to witness more Griddy celebrations in front of a sold-out U.S. Bank Stadium.
Being snubbed of the OROY award was just the beginning, as Jefferson now has more motivation than ever to have another elite season in 2021.
The Vikings have a completely rebuilt roster that seems poised for a playoff run this season and it’s fair to expect that Jefferson will play a huge role in any success the team finds.
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