Justin Jefferson Salutes His Understudy

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Because his first selection in the first round hadn’t worked out, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was under pressure when he made his pick in 2023. Entering the draft, the sophomore GM had a bunch of holes to fill with an underwhelming defensive roster and without having the quarterback of the future under contract.

Justin Jefferson Salutes His Understudy

Justin Jefferson Salutes His Understudy
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

When the Vikings were on the clock, some decent defenders and QB Will Levis were still on the board. But he addressed the offense, adding USC star receiver Jordan Addison with the 23rd overall pick. Adam Thielen had departed, leaving Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn as the only established receivers on the roster.

Therefore, Addison was a logical choice to form an explosive WR duo on the outside, giving Kirk Cousins all the weapons he needs to play at a high level. Through 14 games, it has been a nightmare for defenses to face both of them, although that has only been the case for half of the contests, with Jefferson missing time because of his hamstring injury.

due for a big game
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) does a Lambeau Leap with Vikings fans Craig Lindsay, Nick Johnson, and Chris Gangl against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, October 29, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Vikings won the game, 24-10. © Tork Mason / USA TODAY NETWORK.

When Jefferson was out, Addison’s role increased, and he was asked to be the WR1, a tough task for a rookie. But he continued showcasing his talent. Ever since Addison stepped into the building, Jefferson has taken over as his mentor, showing incredible maturity. The Offensive Player of the Year is pleased with his teammate’s growth:

He grew tremendously. He had to step into a role that we weren’t sure if he was going to be able to take or not but I feel like he did a tremendous job by just being in that number one role, making plays for us that we didn’t think he would be able to make and that just goes to show you the amount of talent that he has and he’s growing every single day. He’s getting better and better every day, listening to what the coaches, what I, and the rest of the players have to say. I’m definitely looking forward to him in this last stretch of this season.

Justin Jefferson
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) catches a touchdown pass to take the lead late in the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 15 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings at PayCor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. The Bengals won on an overtime field goal.

It is still early in his career, but Addison definitely looks the part. He has already produced 824 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Most impressive is his touchdown total. The rookie continues to make plays for the Vikings, including some supernatural ones in high-leverage moments. His numbers dipped once Cousins got hurt, but when head coach Kevin O’Connell inserted Nick Mullens, who could be described as a gunslinging lite version of Cousins, he bounced back with two touchdown grabs in Cincinnati.

Now, with Jefferson back at full strength, the duo is ready for the final three games of the regular season, cementing the playoff status with Mullens under center. Both wideouts have a natural playmaking ability, good hands, and are two of the finest route-runners in the NFL.

End the Jordan
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Addison needs to average 58.7 receiving yards in those three contests to become the third Vikings rookie to generate 1,000 receiving yards. The other two? Randy Moss and Addison’s teammate Jefferson.

The rookie will turn 22 in January, and the Vikes are set to have one of the better receiving tandems in the league for years to come. Adofo-Mensah’s next steps must be to extend Jefferson’s contract and identify the future QBs that can utilize the receivers.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt