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Perhaps it’s time to pump the brakes on the Jefferson hype?

I know. I need a hobby.

I will preface this: I’ve been pretty ‘meh’ about the Justin Jefferson pick since April. I don’t want to bog you down with a summation of my malaise, so I’ll just sum it up by pointing out two things.

Jefferson ran unchecked out of the slot in 2019. So, I have and have had concerns about his ability to adapt to press coverage in the NFL, for example.

Beyond that, and despite what most in Vikings (and national) media said about Jefferson AFTER the draft…. Most called it a reach by the Vikings at the time. Somehow, that transformed into the very Treadwellian “Most Pro Ready!” label that Jefferson developed before camp.

Okay, three points. Also, Spielman has taken multiple receivers in the first round (from the SEC btw) and none have been extended beyond their rookie deals.

That having been said, I did just write a post about Jefferson and his apparent knowledge of the offense and how the Vikings were lining him up everywhere.

But, like the literal not only day but HOUR I finally relented and wrote that Teddy Bridgewater was the future (as he had seemed to correct his throwing motion to get more air under his passes on deep routes), any hope I had was quickly replaced by conflicting news. In Teddy’s case I found out minutes after my post that an ambulance had been called for him at Winter Park. Jefferson?

Of the Athletic wrote this yesterday:

“Meanwhile, while Jefferson is capable of spectacular plays, he hasn’t shined against the second-team defense quite as much as you’d expect. His future is still plenty bright. But it’s not a given that he’s the No. 2 wide receiver Week 1.”

I know.

It’s early. I raised some concerns about Treadwell’s drops at OTA’s when he was a fresh faced yet “pro ready” and consensus “A+” pick, and that aged great.

So, it is a bit concerning that Jefferson isn’t shining as much as you’d expect (a subjective standard), because the Vikings have a lot of question marks and cardboard cutouts of Trae Waynes behind their starting corners.

You’d think that a shoe-in receiver would be able to dominate this Vikings defense and it’s depth or lack thereof. Especially when coaches have lauded Jefferson for his knowledge of the offense.

That can only mean that he is acclimating to,

You know, actually physical contact at the start of his routes. Which, if I recall correctly, was something I said and was railed for.

That probably means that, especially without the benefit of pre-season games, Jefferson will start the season as the third receiver behind Adam Thielen and Bisi Johnson. With new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak recently saying that he’d consider all four top receivers starters, that isn’t the worst thing.

Unless Jefferson solely runs out of the slot and limits Thielen’s slot access. Thielen is arguably the best slot receiver in the league, and does a lot of damage down the field from there. So with deep threat Stefon Diggs living his dream in Buffalo, that could hurt the passing offense at it’s (second) weakest point (see: the offensive line).

Again, it’s early. But for a team that needs Jefferson to develop quick, this isn’t the best news.

Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson started back in 2015 & in 2019, and purchased before the 2017-18 season , used to write for and is the host of the ’Morning Joes’ & ‘About the Labor’ Podcasts, as well. Follow on Twitter: @vtPTSD

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Christopher Benson
Christopher Benson
11 months ago

WRs rarely set the world on fire Wk 1 of training camp. Any of them. We also really only have the one comment by one observer that JJ has not shined “quite as much”. I mean, if you take those words at face value it means he is doing a tiny bit less than expected. We know she scored the TD from Kirk Cousins in that crucial 2 minute offense. We know they are trying him all over to see what he is capable of. We know Gary Kubiak says JJ is exactly who and what they thought they were getting when they drafted him. So, do we believe Kubiak (just as good as expected) or some reporter (tiny bit not as good as whatever that reporter expected)?

Table the training camp stuff. We can maybe all keep in mind a couple players who were given starting spots early and then benched after a game of live action who went on to be pretty good. Who were they? Joey Browner of the Vikings and Warren Sapp of the Buccaneers.

Week 1 of training camp JJ should be with the second team AT MOST. He is right where he should be. This is not the “isn’t the best news” you say that it is. This is exactly where one would expect him to be, again, WEEK 1 of training camp. Also, it isn’t “news”. It is one reporter with an impression based on his unknown previous expectation and entirely countered by what Kubiak, the actual OC, publicly states.

Joe, you wrote “Most called it a reach by the Vikings at the time” as per the draft selection of JJ. Unless “most” refers to people in your household or something like that, you are wrong. Most draft experts and pundits thought is was either good value or even a steal. Before the draft there were some who said JJ was a better prospect than Jeudy, Lamb, or Ruggs. And why not? He is faster than two of them, bigger than one, as big as another, more productive than all three, and has a better catch percentage (hands) than all three of the others, and it from a college program, offensive system, and against tougher competition than most or all three of the others.

The slot concern is overblown. This is not a 5’10”, 4.6 40 yard dash guy like, say, Chad Beebe. He has the speed and size, intelligence and toughness and focus to do just as well against press as, say, Stefon Diggs who is smaller and slower. JJ has played outside extensively in the past (2018). It is not new to him. Thielen dominates anywhere in the field. I know you’re not arguing JJ it no good because he is only slot (false) and because he takes the slot from Thielen and Thielen is only good in the slot (false). You seem to view this as a Minus 1 Thielen, when, if in some reality JJ was only as good as Thielen in the slot then, when on the field at the same time, we are actually Plus 1 Thielen.

Before the draft I actually argued that I would not be surprised and would support it if any team selected JJ as the first WR overall.

Jake Adam
Jake Adam
11 months ago

I truly feel this reporter is talking out both sides of his mouth at the mid-point or end of the season he can say he was right about Jefferson either way..

11 months ago

believing teddy is a good qb discredits this guy’s ability to evaluate talent.

it’s been one week of practice with all this covid bs. how about you pump the brakes bud

11 months ago

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11 months ago

Literally TWO DAYS ago you published an article saying “Jefferson may finally break the Randy Moss curse of first-round WR busts.” This site is a farce.

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