The Minnesota Vikings could spend the next decade thanking the football gods for Justin Jefferson.
That is heavy praise to bestow on a rookie receiver after his first nine games. In Jefferson, the stellar wideout from LSU, the Vikings have found their next Randy Moss.
That is even more lavish praise. But the Minnesota Vikings will be first to say that a statement like that has serious merit.
Justin Jefferson is having an excellent rookie season
Justin Jefferson falling to the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft could go down as one of the night’s greatest mistakes — for teams not named the Minnesota Vikings, of course.
In his first nine games, Jefferson hauled in 42 catches for 762 yards and three touchdowns. Jefferson had four 100-yard performances in those nine games, including three in a four-game stretch from September 27 to October 18.
In that last game, a 40-23 loss to Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, Jefferson hauled in nine catches for 166 yards and two scores.
Jefferson impressed on a national stage in Week 10 against the Chicago Bears. The rookie wideout turned eight catches into 135 yards in a crucial 19-13 victory on Monday Night Football.
Jefferson is on pace for historical final numbers
Justin Jefferson is on pace to finish the 2020 season with historical numbers.
If Jefferson keeps on his current pace, he will end the 2020 season with 75 catches, 1,358 yards, and five touchdowns.
Former Arizona Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin‘s 101 catches in 2003 set a rookie record. Bill Groman, who played in the AFL, holds the retroactive rookie receiving yards record at 1,473; Groman, who died in June, accomplished that feat for the Houston Oilers.
Jefferson would need Kirk Cousins to force-feed him the ball to break Boldin’s record. However, Groman’s 1,473 yards is a passable goal for Jefferson if he can have another couple of 100-yard games.
That is a difficult task, especially with Dalvin Cook starring at running back. But Jefferson has emerged as a dependable target for Kirk Cousins, so that task may not be totally unrealistic.
Justin Jefferson is the Vikings’ new Randy Moss
Even if Justin Jefferson doesn’t set any NFL rookie receiving records, he is on pace to pass Randy Moss where the Minnesota Vikings are involved.
Moss set all three of the Vikings’ single-season rookie receiving records in 1998 when the Pro Football Hall of Famer had 69 catches, 1,313 yards, and 17 touchdowns.
Jefferson is on pace to pass Moss in the first two departments. The 17 touchdowns, however, firmly belong to Moss for the time being.
The Minnesota Vikings have to be extremely excited about Justin Jefferson’s future in the purple and gold. If Jefferson is putting up these numbers at 21, what lies ahead for him and the Vikings over the next few years?
Kirk Cousins will likely continue starting at quarterback for Minnesota in 2021, but his future beyond next year is uncertain, even with all of the money he is owed.
Jefferson’s impressive play of late has the Vikings back in the playoff race at 4-5. With three winnable home games against the Cowboys, Panthers, and Jaguars ahead, Minnesota can easily enter its Week 14 showdown with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers with a 7-5 record.