Rick Spielman Reveals His Plan B for the Justin Jefferson Pick

Rick Spielman Connects
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Justin Jefferson just turned 24 and has the most receptions and receiving yards of all players in NFL history before turning 24 with his 4,825 yards. Vikings legend Randy Moss had 4,163 yards which ranked him second.

The Offensive Player of the Year and dark horse MVP candidate is arguably the best receiver in football and will soon sign a huge contract extension that will most likely make him the highest-paid non-QB.

Rick Spielman Reveals His Plan B for the Justin Jefferson Pick

Rick Spielman Reveals His Plan B in the Justin Jefferson Draft
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Jefferson was the 22nd overall pick in 2020, sweetening Rick Spielman’s legacy in Minnesota. He was the fifth receiver taken behind Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Jalen Reagor.

The latter was picked just one spot ahead of Jefferson, and the Eagles have received a lot of scrutiny for that decision. Reagor was traded to the Vikings after his second season in Philly but hasn’t been more than a punt returner to this point, and his roster spot could be in jeopardy if the Vikes can find a replacement to return the punts.

Jefferson was the top remaining receiver when the Eagles chose Reagor. Had they taken JJ with the 21st pick, Spielman would have had to go in a different direction, but he probably still would’ve taken a wideout, as someone had to replace Stefon Diggs, who he traded to Buffalo.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

A player the Vikings apparently liked in the draft was Brandon Aiyuk, who ended up going to the 49ers with the 25th pick after 49ers GM John Lynch acquired the pick from the Vikings. Spielman talked about Aiyuk on the CBS Pick Six Podcast.

The other guy we really liked was Aiyuk coming out of Arizona State. He played one year at Arizona State, you could see the athletic traits. He reminded me a little bit of Stefon Diggs’ body movement and route running ability. He had a lot of technical things to work with but athletically I thought he had some similar traits to that. Even I went a little bit back in the day when I was in Miami and [he had some] Chris Chambers in him. I liked his ability to adjust to the ball, so we liked Aiyuk. [He] was up in that mix with those receivers as well for us.

Rick Spielman

Aiyuk has been a fine player for the 49ers. He played in 12 games as a rookie and had a few great games late in the season but appeared to have landed in Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse for a while in Year 2. The wideout finally turned into a 1,000-yard receiver in 2022. It helped that Deebo Samuel missed some time with an injury. He has recorded 194 catches for 2,589 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air so far and added 117 rushing yards and a couple of rushing scores.

Vikings Little Movie
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Overall those are good numbers, and he is now one of the better WR2s in the league. However, it is nothing compared to Jefferson. The Vikings were lucky that Jefferson fell to them and developed into the phenom he is today. He is one of the elite players in the NFL.

Jefferson is the franchise leader in single-season receptions and receiving yards, set the NFL record for the most yards in the first three seasons, and is the youngest player ever to lead the league in both receiving yards and receptions. He quickly became the face of the franchise and one of the most popular players in the league.

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