The Minnesota Vikings are off to a disappointing 1-3 start, so there has certainly not been too many positives going on so far.
The biggest positive though without a doubt has been the play of rookie wide receiver and first round pick Justin Jefferson.
After Stefon Diggs forced his way out of Minnesota, the Vikings used the 22nd overall pick they received in the trade with the Buffalo Bills on Jefferson.
This year’s draft had loads of talent at the wide receiver position and Jefferson was the fifth one selected.
Regardless of how good he was at LSU, it was simply unfair to expect him to fill Diggs’ shoes right away. Jefferson however has come much closer than expected already.
If anyone did expect Jefferson to have a 175-yard game, chances are very high they did not expect it to happen in week three.
After not starting in the first two games of the season, he has started opposite of Adam Thielen the past two games. After combining for five receptions and 70 yards in the first two games, he has really come on strong. After catching seven receptions for 175 yards a touchdown in the loss against the Tennessee Titans, he had four receptions for 103 yards in the win against the Houston Texans.
Will Jefferson be as good as Diggs or at least close to? Still far too early to say, but he is certainly on the right track. Could he even be better than him? That is also far too early to say. If Jefferson stays healthy though, he has a great chance to be a very good receiver.
So far Jefferson has 16 receptions for 348 yards (eighth best in the league) and a touchdown, while Diggs has 26 receptions for 403 yards (tied for a league-high) and two touchdowns. Right now, Diggs is clearly the better player, but going forward it will be very interesting. Regardless of whether Jefferson will be at Diggs’ level or close to, as long as he keeps improving, the entire organization and fans will certainly be more than happy with that.
Jefferson is five years younger than Diggs by way though and much cheaper. Those two things certainly work in the Vikings favor and will help them down the road, especially with the league salary cap expected to drop after the season.
Here is a look at their salaries thru 2023:
2020: $2.385 million
2021: $2.982 million
2022: $3.578 million
2023: $4.175 million
2020: $14.8 million
2021: $11.6 million
2022: $11.335 million
2023: $11.335 million
Regardless of how the rest of the season may or may not go, Jefferson’s potential is definitely something to be excited about for years to come. This team still has some issues to address in the near future, but the rookie’s play and potential is a nice step in the right direction.
The fact that he has been playing this well without a preseason makes it even more impressive.
Should be very interesting to see how things go from here for the 21-year old.