3 Years Ago, The Vikings Just Laughed and Laughed

Dustin Baker's Vikings Mock Draft 1.0
Vikings NFL Draft

Heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings needed a cornerback and wide receiver for long-term roster planning.

One plan fell by the wayside (later in tragic fashion), and the other worked in a franchise-changing manner.

3 Years Ago, The Vikings Just Laughed and Laughed

Indeed, April 20th, 2023, is the third anniversary of Minnesota drafting wide receiver Justin Jefferson — a moment that spurred laughter from then-general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer.

3 Years Ago
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings picked at No. 22, and the Philadelphia Eagles lived one spot above on the board. The Eagles chose wide receiver Jalen Reagor — who now also plays for the Vikings — curiously leaving Jefferson for Minnesota.

Upon seeing the pick from Philadelphia, laughter ensued.

This was “the pandemic draft,” so all general managers and head coaches worked remotely, as no traditional draft occurred because of the coronavirus. Surprisingly, the media production and broadcast of the event were flawless, outside of Bill Belichick’s dog apparently running his draft or somebody coming out of the toilet in Tennesse’s war room.

Vikings Little Movie
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jefferson fell to the Vikings, the team’s brass giggled, and the LSU wideout seized the league by the tail thereafter. He won the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award in 2022, owns the most receiving yards in NFL history by a player in his first three seasons, and already set the Vikings records for most receptions and receiving yards in a season. Too, Jefferson chased Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record and the elusive 2,000+ yards in a season mark for most of the 2022 regular season but came up short in the season’s final two games.

His next contract is expected to set the market and tip the scales at $30 to $35 million per season. The deal could be announced any day, or talks could drag further into the spring. After the Vikings lost to the New York Giants at home in the playoffs, Jefferson stated he has no plans of venturing elsewhere, telling reporters, “I mean, I will be wherever I’m wanted. If they want me here, I’m here.”

Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

Barring an unforeseen change of heart by the Vikings or Jefferson, the man is set to remain glued to the organization for the next five-plus years, a situation enabled by the Eagles fascination with Reagor over Jefferson.

Since the laughing moment, the Vikings have a 28-22 (.560) record to Philadelphia’s 27-22-1 (.550), remarkably similar win-loss outcomes. Of course, the Eagles reached the Super Bowl two months ago and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, so the green team gets the nod for supremacy since.

But Minnesota has Jefferson — and Reagor — and few Vikings fans would change that outcome if a time machine was in play.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.