After not starting the first two games of the 2020 season, Minnesota Vikings rookie Justin Jefferson has become a serious contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. The 21-year-old LSU product leads all rookies with 918 receiving yards on the season.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf, who is quickly becoming a rising star in his own right, gave Jefferson credit for the season he’s having, commenting “that boy serious” on a tweet highlighting Jefferson atop the rookie wide receiver ranks.
That boy serious https://t.co/0oDr4JRvQe
— DK Metcalf (@dkm14) November 26, 2020
Jefferson’s response called out the fact the two did not exchange jerseys when their teams faced each other in Week 5 on Sunday Night Football.
Where my jersey at? https://t.co/ReJ1nbXB7T
— JJETS✈️ (@JJettas2) November 26, 2020
Metcalf later cleared the air, replying “bruh you got my number,” as the two rising stars have already connected despite missing the opportunity to swap jerseys due to the NFL’s COVID-19 policy. Metcalf and Jefferson will likely have another chance to swap in the near future as the Vikings and Seahawks have faced off in each of the past three seasons.
Lol bruh you got my number 😂 https://t.co/aXDvZjNb4c
— DK Metcalf (@dkm14) November 26, 2020
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Jefferson Proves He’s a True No. 1 Wide Receiver
The Vikings, missing Adam Thielen on Sunday, were without the league’s leader in receiving touchdowns (10) entering Week 11. Thielen had caught 7 of his touchdowns from inside the red zone, which had been the more pressing concern for how Minnesota would score inside the 20-yard line.
Instead, Jefferson further asserted his versatility in the No. 1 wide receiver role, catching both of his touchdown passes from 10 and 12 yards out as the rookie created space and converted in the red zone. He finished the game with 7 catches for 70 yards.
Originally slighted as just a slot receiver that thrived in the right system in college, Jefferson has continued to show he’s one of the league’s top wideouts whichever way you cut it.
This year’s No. 22 overall pick is currently eighth in receiving yards (918), fourth in yards per reception (17.7) and, arguably most importantly, first in yards per target (12.8). He is the second-highest graded wide receiver (90.1) in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, behind only Green Bay Packers star Davante Adams.
Since his first career start in Week 3, Jefferson has averaged 94.2 yards per game — good for second in the league behind only Metcalf (94.5) and ahead of Kansas City Chiefs speedster Tyreek Hill (92.8).
Jefferson Disrespected by Rookie of the Year Oddsmakers
While Jefferson has made it clear he carries himself like a veteran and operates beyond the acumen of a rookie wideout, it’s important to rank his performances next to his peers when considering his Offensive Rookie of the Year standing.
Justin Jefferson among rookies WRs:
🟣 36 first downs + TDs (1st)
🟣 2.90 yards per route run (1st)
🟣 24 receptions of 15+ yards (1st) pic.twitter.com/rnqAMNWXIx
— PFF (@PFF) November 30, 2020
While Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool has been considered as a dark horse for the accolade with his 10 combined touchdowns, Jefferson has closed the game with 6 scores on the season. He is 245 receiving yards ahead of Cincinnatti Bengals rookie Tee Higgins, who’s second in yards for rookie wideouts.
Currently, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is a near-lock for Offensive Rookie of the Year with -900 odds. Despite his team’s 3-8 record, Herbert is on pace to set rookie passing records in completions, yards and touchdowns. Herbert is putting together one of the most prolific seasons by a rookie signal-caller in recent history, while Jefferson is already emulating past receiving performances that have also garnered the award, making for a difficult decision by the Associated Press.
However, Jefferson’s +850 odds are considerably too low given his production this season.
Most receiving yards over first 11 career games, since NFL merger:
1. Odell Beckham: 1,120
2. Anquan Boldin: 999
3. Justin Jefferson: 918
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) November 30, 2020