Minnesota Vikings rookie Justin Jefferson is as honest as a first-year player comes.
The 21-year-old receiver, coming off a Pro Bowl rookie campaign, appeared on “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd on Tuesday. Cowherd pressed Jefferson to speak upon the rumor that the Vikings had an interest in Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields in this year’s draft as a possible succession plan to Kirk Cousins.
Jefferson acknowledged the need to prepare to move on from Cousins in the future.
Here’s the question and answer from “The Herd.”
Cowherd: Were you surprised to hear the Vikings were interested in Justin Fields?
Jefferson: No. We have to build on for after Kirk. Having Justin Fields brings a little more pressure to other teams by having a dominant quarterback like he is.
Minnesota opted to draft Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond, who has many of the same traits as Fields but was a less risky option in the third round.
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Jefferson Praises Kellen Mond
While Jefferson’s comment on Fields sparked a litany of controversy of whether or not Jefferson was throwing shade at the quarterback who helped him break the NFL rookie receiving yards record last season, his comments this offseason surrounding young quarterbacks have generally been positive.
Jefferson, who worked out with Mond in Miami this offseason, addressed Mond’s presence on the team with equal praise that he offered Fields.
“I feel like he’s going to be a good player on this team. … He has a very strong arm… I think he will be a great addition to this team,” Jefferson said in a conference call, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.
Neither of these comments were slights against Cousins, who is likely the Vikings starting quarterback for the remaining two years of his contract.
Jefferson’s praise of young quarterbacks does not take away from the praise he’s shown Cousins in the past.
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Jefferson Fires Back at Cousins Critics
Back in February, Jefferson appeared on the “Jim Rome Show” and adamantly defended Cousins after Deion Sanders took a shot at Cousins a week earlier.
“He definitely takes a lot of heat; he takes way more heat than he really deserves,” Jefferson said. “If you look at the numbers, he’s top of the league. He’s been doing a lot of things for this team and for this offense. I don’t really understand why he gets so much criticism. All of those losses that we had wasn’t on him. Of course, we would like to take some plays back and redo some plays but that’s just how it is. You don’t play perfectly, especially in this league, and to see the things that he has done, I really don’t know why he gets so much criticism. He’s the reason why I had 1,400 yards.”
Jefferson’s hot mic controversy also rose this offseason, which he addressed as a heat of the moment outburst that’s not reflective of his relationship with Cousins.