Justin Jefferson has garnered respect across the NFL not just as one of the best rookie wideouts in the league but one of the best wide receivers regardless of experience.
The Minnesota Vikings rookie received praise from several of the league’s top wide receivers and, approaching his first offseason, has reached out to several of the league’s best at his position to train with this offseason.
In an extended interview on the Pat McAfee Show, Jefferson spoke on his desire to train and learn from fellow star wide receivers, including two All-Pro selections in former Vikings wide receiver and Buffalo Bills star Stefon Diggs and Green Bay Packers wideout Davante Adams.
“The best train with the best,” Jefferson said. Of course, I want to train with the top guys of the league. I’ve talked to Davante Adams, talked to Stefon Diggs. Odell [Beckham Jr]. Talking to those different guys, I definitely want to train with them and see all the information they can give to me to help my game out.”
Jefferson said he’ll be training at former Chicago Bears star Brandon Marshall’s House of Athlete in Florida this upcoming Monday after former Cincinnati Bengals Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson sent Jefferson a challenge on Twitter.
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What Jefferson Looks to Gain
Jefferson elaborated on the type of polish he hopes to add to his game by training with the veteran wideouts.
“Just giving me information to help anything I have a problem with,” Jefferson said. “If it’s releases, if it’s running different routes, how to get open in this coverage or how the cornerback is playing you, There’s definitely different ways to help my game and improve and those guys have some tricks up their sleeves.”
“[There’s] different things I felt I needed to work on definitely having to work on that press-man coverage and working on different releases,” Jefferson added. “This upcoming season we have a lot of top corners we’re going against so I’m going to have to reach in my bag and finds those tricks to get open.”
Jefferson, who’s been adamant about proving his critics wrong, was actually one of the league’s best wideouts against press coverage but is undeniably eager to get even better. He overcame the skepticism facing him out of college as a slot receiver that needed the ball schemed to him by finishing first in the league in yards per target (13.2) against press coverage this season.
Jefferson Well-Connected With Beckham Jr.
Jefferson’s reputation has skyrocketed since he broke the Super Bowl-era rookie receiving yards record, posting 1,400 yards this season. Stars like Michael Thomas, Drew Brees, Richard Sherman, Cris Carter, Randy Moss, Lebron James and even Michael Jordan have all offered resounding praise for the 21-year-old.
Beckham Jr. may have been the first to recognize the talent in Jefferson after becoming familiar with the Louisiana native while playing with Jefferson’s brothers at LSU.
Jefferson said he used to watch Beckham growing up and has modeled his game after the fellow LSU alumnus.
“I’ve been watching him for so long. Just kind of seeing what he does and then going out on the field and trying to do the same thing,” Jefferson said. “Just kind of having that little signature movement that he does during his routes or his moves after catch all of that plays a part in my game today and he’s just a part of my game that I enjoy having and that I’m excited to bring into the league.”
Beckham Jr. had one of the most prolific rookie seasons in NFL history in 2014 by posting seven 100-plus receiving yard games. Jefferson matched that mark and came close to beating Beckham’s rookie record 91.2 position grade by Pro Football Focus, earning a 90.5 grade this season — second to only to Adams this season.
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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.