The Minnesota Vikings struck gold by selecting Justin Jefferson in the first round of last year’s draft.
Despite not starting until Week 3 in 2020, Jefferson racked up 1,400 receiving yards to break both Randy Moss’s franchise record and Anquan Boldin’s NFL single-season rookie receiving yards record that stood for 17 years.
The 21-year-old has garnered respect around the league and a recent 2020 opponent spoke out on Jefferson’s potential in the league.
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Bucs All-Pro Linebacker on Jefferson: ‘He’s Going to Be the Best’
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White, who earned second-team All-Pro honors in his sophomore season last year, spoke with ESPN’s Jordan Schultz last week and did not mince words when it came to Jefferson, his former teammate at LSU.
White’s Mount Rushmore-acclaimed praise of Jefferson adds to the growing expectations Jefferson strived to have since he vowed to make every team that passed on him in the draft pay.
An ongoing narrative surrounding Jefferson has been his devotion to Minnesota over his own personal vendettas in the league — one which he addressed this offseason when asked about how he felt that the Philadelphia Eagles passed on him a pick before the Vikings.
“Leading up to the draft, you know, they had all of those mock drafts and people sharing their opinions on who is going to go where. A lot of people had me going to Philly. And, I thought I was going to Philly,” Jefferson said, per Bleacher Report.
“Honestly. The funny part is, Philly was on the board and then Minnesota called me. At first, I thought it was Philly. But, I answered the phone and it was Minnesota. It’s crazy how all of that happened and everything. But, I’m definitely, definitely, definitely excited that I’m on the Vikings rather than Philly.”
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Jefferson on Year 2: ‘I’ve Got a Target on My Back’
Despite cementing himself as the top rookie wide receiver in 2020, Jefferson still has plenty to prove after missing out on the Offensive Rookie of the Year award to Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.
In an interview with GQ, Jefferson explained his preparation for his second NFL season:
To be honest, I’ve tried to add anything possible. I’ve been watching a lot of guys’ film. I literally sit at the computer all day watching different film, highlights, just different ways to improve my game. I’m always trying to look for different ways to step my game up.
There’s more guys looking at me. I’ve got a target on my back now. I’ve got to do better than I did last year. Going into year two I know how the game is now. You know? I’ve experienced it, I’ve got a bit more information, I’m a little bit more comfortable now that I’ve had a year under my belt.
Despite the acclaim he’s received and a busy offseason filled with national media interviews, Jefferson attested that he’s maintained the same fight he had when walking on at LSU.
“I kept that same fight I’ve had my entire life. I’ve been doubted my whole career. There’s been people who never thought I was that top-tier guy,” Jefferson said. “So I wanted to prove other people wrong, really. I went out there and did my thing and got Kirk [Cousins] to throw me the ball.”