Justin Jefferson to Minnesota Vikings: NFL Draft 2020

The Minnesota Vikings selected Justin Jefferson, Wide Receiver, out of Louisiana State University (LSU). He was the 22nd pick in the first round and was the fifth wide receiver drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Biography

Justin Jefferson is 6’1” and 202 lbs. He played three years at Louisiana State and will be 21 years old at the beginning of the 2020 NFL Season. Jefferson, the 76th ranked high school player in Louisiana, wasn’t on many NFL radars as a potential first-round pick coming out of high school. During his junior season for the National Champions LSU Tigers, Jefferson’s production was astronomical in one of the greatest college offenses in history. He caught passes from Joe Burrow, who arguably had the best single-season performance by a quarterback in college history. However, he did have to compete for targets with arguably the best wide receiver in the country in Ja’Marr Chase. Jefferson played over 80% of his snaps out of the slot for the Tigers and projects to be a big-bodied slot receiver in the NFL.

College Production

Justin Jefferson broke out at the age of 19 (age during their first season with a 20% receiving dominator rating) in his second season at LSU. Jefferson’s best season from a market share perspective was his sophomore season when he accounted for 32.4% of LSU’s passing offense (51st percentile). However, from raw stats and a yards per team play point of view, Jefferson had his best season in 2019. He had 111 receptions, for 1,540 receiving yards, and 18 scrimmage touchdowns for a receiving dominator rating (average percentage of their team’s receiving yards and receiving touchdowns) of 27.5% (35th percentile). Jefferson had favorable age-adjusted production. He averaged 815 scrimmage yards (73rd percentile) and 8.0 scrimmage touchdowns (82nd percentile) per season for an average scrimmage dominator rating (average percentage of their team’s scrimmage yards and scrimmage touchdowns) per season of 11.3% (49th percentile). Jefferson was fairly efficient as well and averaged 0.80 scrimmage yards per team play (60th percentile).


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Athleticism

[profiler]JustinJefferson[/profiler]

Justin Jefferson has a terrific height-adjusted speed score of 104.9 (83rd percentile) after running a 4.43-second 40-yard time at the NFL Combine. He has a great burst score of 126.8 (81st percentile) too. Jefferson is a big-bodied slot receiver and also a dynamic redzone threat. He will rely on clean releases to use his speed and quickness to make chunk plays at the next level.

NFL Landing Spot

Minnesota Vikings: Stefon Diggs is gone to Siberi…Buffalo, he’s in Buffalo. Diggs accounted for 20% of the team’s targets. While that might not seem like a staggering amount, to narrow focus, the Vikings targeted wide receivers 209 times, meaning that Diggs accounted for 45% of the wide receiver targets. In fairness, Adam Thielen only played in 10 games, and is a productive receiver when healthy. When playing in 16 games, Thielen was a WR1 in 2017 and 2018. The Vikings were a top 10 offense in 2019, but are continuing to favor the run, rushing the third highest percentage of all teams. They are so committed to run, that they even went so far as to fire a previous offensive coordinator who wasn’t committed enough. Despite the lack of attempts, Cousins was the fourth highest rated passer of 2019 and was above league average targeting almost every area of the field. When Diggs departed, the depth chart behind Thielen consisted of Bisi Johnson (who was fine in relief last year), Chad Beebe and Alexander Hollins. The team signed Tajae Sharpe, who was efficient but never played a major role in Tennessee. This is a team that needs another WR. While they surely will continue to favor the run, the hole that Diggs left is enormous. Thielen’s health doesn’t seem to be a guarantee at age 30, and the Vikings can move on from him after this season if they choose. Whoever the Vikings bring in will be able to compete to be the 1B to Thielen’s 1A, and has a chance to usurp Thielen if he misses time and/or is gone in 2021.

Rivals’ Rapid Analysis

Justin Jefferson was a productive player in college with a great frame and athletic profile. He will use his speed and burst to win out of the slot and as a redzone weapon in the NFL. The Vikings invested first round draft capital into Jefferson. He has a high degree of opportunity and will compete with Thielen, Cook, Rudolph/Smith for targets from Kirk Cousins

Justin Jefferson is in Shawn’s first wide receiver tier, Shawn’s WR3, and Shawn’s Overall Rookie Rank 9. Shawn would target Jefferson in the mid first round in superflex rookie drafts (Early-to-mid first round in single QB). This is a great landing spot for Jefferson. His big-bodied slot receiver frame will be an instant hit in Minnesota as Kirk Cousins looks to develop a rapport with a new receiver after the banishment of Diggs to Buffalo. Jefferson now enters into a locker room where he will be expected to fill the 1B to Adam Thielen’s 1A. But Thielen has struggled to stay on the field of late and the depth chart behind them is woefully thin. If Thielen is out with injury, Jefferson will be a force in this offense. Even if Thielen stays healthy, this offense is so wide open that these two could fall into a similar target dynamic of Diggs/Thielen, Jones/Ridley, or Godwin/Evans. This offense loves to run two tight end sets and to target their running backs, but this opportunity is so wide open that Jefferson should have no issue carving out a fantasy-relevant amount of targets. 

Justin Jefferson is in Dave’s first wide receiver tier, his WR3, and his tenth rookie overall. Dave would target Jefferson at 1.10 in superflex rookie drafts (1.07 in single QB). Jefferson immediately becomes Stefon Diggs’ replacement in Minnesota. His upside is limited slightly by landing in the slow-paced, run-first Vikings offense. Jefferson’s age-adjusted production, athleticism, landing spot, and high draft capital make him a safe bet toward the end of the first round in dynasty rookie drafts


This article was written in collaboration with Dave Wright. For more analysis check out Dave and Shawn’s previous articles at Dynasty Football Factory. Additionally, you can also find Dave’s dynasty superflex rankings at Dynasty Football Factory. Stay tuned for more rookie wide receiver rapid reaction articles from us throughout the entire NFL Draft. We will also give you instant reactions for priority UDFA wide receivers to help you try and find the next Adam Thielen. Interact with Dave and Shawn on Twitter @ff_spaceman and @ff_walrus. You can listen to our rivalry on our podcast @ATaleofTwoRivals with @ff_banterman.

Information found in this article was gathered from @ff_spaceman’s College Prospect Database, PlayerProfiler.com, Sports-Reference.com, AirYards.com, and a prospect’s college team website.

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