There are few positives to take away from the Vikings‘ 1-5 start to the season.
But rookie Justin Jefferson is giving fans and former Hall of Famer Cris Carter plenty to be excited for in the future.
Epix, a cable TV network, followed Carter at the Falcons game and captured his reaction to Jefferson’s second touchdown against the Falcons. The Hall of Famer had plenty to say about the rookie first-rounder.
"That guy is going to be a problem for the NFL."
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 21, 2020
“The guy’s a natural,” Carter shouted as Jefferson shook Falcons cornerback Kendell Sheffield with a stutter-and-go move at the line of scrimmage.
“That guy is gonna be problems for the NFL,” Carter added. “It’s just a matter of time before he becomes the featured guy in this offense.”
Carter has been an advocate for Jefferson even during the pre-draft scouting, pleading to the Vikings to draft Jefferson.
@Vikings please draft Justin Jefferson LSU, he’s got a chance to be as good as any Wr in this years Draft.
— Cris Carter (@criscarter80) April 24, 2020
He proved himself right after Jefferson’s second start of the season against the Texans as Jefferson put together back-to-back 100-plus yard receiving games.
— Cris Carter (@criscarter80) October 6, 2020
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Jefferson’s Growing List of Records
With Dalvin Cook out against the Falcons, Jefferson already has assumed that role, catching nine passes for 166 yards and two TDs. Jefferson has currently produced the second-most receiving yards (537) by a rookie in six games since 1970. His 537 receiving yards also ranks fifth among all wide receivers this season. Jefferson is also the No. 1 wide receiver graded by Pro Football Focus through three weeks.
His No. 1 position grade is a culmination of many things he’s excelled at through the first six games of his NFL career.
Here’s a short list of his current milestones:
- Jefferson surpassed Randy Moss for most receiving yards by a Vikings rookie through six games with 537 compared to Moss’ 527 through six games. Stefon Diggs is third on the list at 506 yards in 2015.
- Jefferson’s three touchdowns in six games (four starts) ties for the second-most receiving touchdowns by an NFL rookie this season and is eighth all-time by Vikings rookies.
- Jefferson is the fourth rookie in NFL history to record three or more 100-plus yard receiving games in the first six games of the season, joining Amari Cooper (2015), Julio Jones (2011), and Byron Williams (1983).
What’s been most impressive is Jefferson’s average yards per catch (19.2) as he’s climbed into the league’s top five leaders in receiving yards through just four starts this season.
NFL receiving leaders through 6 weeks:
1. DeAndre Hopkins: 601 Yards (61 Targets)
2. Robby Anderson: 566 Yards (51 Targets)
3. Stefon Diggs: 555 Yards (59 Targets)
4. Calvin Ridley: 546 Yards (57 Targets)
5. Justin Jefferson: 537 Yards (36 Targets) !!!!!!
— Purple Post (@Purple_Post) October 20, 2020
He has 36 targets on the year compared to an average of 57 targets by the four receivers in front of him.
Jefferson Gives Fiery Response to Falcons Loss
Jefferson, who went undefeated at LSU last season and won the NCAA national title, can likely count the number of times he lost on his hands throughout his playing career.
The Vikings’ 1-5 start has been a change for the rookie who has continued to carve out a larger role in the team’s offense.
“I don’t like coming home with a loss, I’ve never been on a losing team,” Jefferson said. “I just want our swagger back. This team is known for having that swagger and winning games, and I just want that old team back.”
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.