Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson took being the fifth wide receiver taken in his draft class personally — issuing a vendetta to all the teams that passed on him.
He proved those teams wrong by racking up 1,400 receiving yards and breaking Anquan Boldin’s rookie receiving yards record that stood for 17 years.
Yet, the NFL world has remained skittish in recognizing the 22-year-old receiver as one of the league’s best — even after he finished fourth among all receivers in yardage.
EA Sports recently snubbed Jefferson in the latest edition of Madden NFL, grading Jefferson outside the top 10 wide receivers in the league, sparking a media prodding of Jefferson to address the disrespect.
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Jefferson: ‘It’s More Motivation for Me’
Jefferson was by members of the media several times on if he had seen the Madden 22 player ratings circulating social media in the past week.
An avid gamer, Jefferson was well aware of the slight and has added it to his ongoing channels of motivation.
“It’s a video game. A lot goes into that, but it’s just more motivation for me… I definitely got something to prove this year,” Jefferson said in a press conference on Wednesday.
Jefferson laid out what categories of the game he feels he’s deserving of a 90+ rating in a Vikings Entertainment Network special — listing catch, speed and spectacular catch as his fortes.
Jefferson’s 88-catch, 1,400 yard rookie season was evidence of his ability despite not starting until Week 3 and not having a true offseason due to the pandemic. He produced the fourth-most yards of any receiver while ranking 18th in targets last season. Dropping just two passes last season, Jefferson posted the 11th-lowest drop rate (4.3%) of any receiver with 100 or more targets, per Zone Coverage’s Sam Ekstrom. He finished the season as the second-ranked receiver by Pro Football Focus, trailing only Green Bay Packers All-Pro Devante Adams.
Jefferson joined Randy Moss as the only two rookie wide receivers to earn an All-Pro mention in the last 30 years. However, EA Sports may need to see more from Jefferson before acknowledging the recognition he’s received after a superstar rookie year.
Here are the top wide receivers who didn’t crack Madden 22’s top 10, including Adam Thielen at No. 16 and Jefferson at No. 17.
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Jefferson Confident in Year 2
While many NFL observers have already predicted a sophomore slump for Jefferson, he views the upcoming season differently.
Sure, only five receivers have ever produced back-to-back seasons with at 1,400 or more receiving yards — but Jefferson believes in the impact he’ll have after weathering the uncertainty of the 2020 season.
“I just feel way more comfortable going into this season,” Jefferson said. “I didn’t know what to expect last season, then me starting Week 3, I mean, everything was just so inconvenient last year. Now going into this year, having a whole year with Kirk and the rest of the guys on this team, I feel way more confident. I feel like I’m going to do even better than I did last year.”