Former LSU football wide receiver Justin Jefferson could make a big impact as a rookie in 2020.
LSU football‘s Justin Jefferson was the fifth wide receiver selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, but USA Today thinks he’ll have a bigger impact as a rookie than three of the four wide receivers selected ahead of him.
USA Today recently made a list of the top 20 rookies most likely to have an instant impact and Jefferson, who was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the No. 22 overall pick, came in at No. 4 on the list.
(Unsurprisingly, former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was No. 1 on the list.)
The only wide receiver listed ahead of Jefferson was Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III, who was selected with the No. 11 overall pick by the Las Vegas Raiders (Ruggs was the first wide receiver selected in the 2020 NFL Draft).
It’s all about production
It’s not surprising to see Jefferson listed this high. He was highly productive at LSU (111 receptions for 1,540 yards) and I’m a firm believer that numbers don’t lie.
Plus, he landed in a perfect situation.
There’s no denying that Jefferson is at his best when he’s in the slot (that’s part of the reason he fell in the draft, because he didn’t prove at LSU that he could beat press coverage).
In Minnesota, that’s likely where Jefferson will spend most of his time. He’s essentially taking over the spot vacated by Stefon Diggs, who played a lot from the slot (though he also spent a significant amount of time on the outside under offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who is now the Cleveland Browns’ head coach).
New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak likes to utilize a lot of crossing routes, which will play to Jefferson’s strengths. The former LSU star is a tremendous route runner and could be used as a weapon underneath.
It all sets up for Jefferson to have a successful rookie season. Do I think he breaks Anquan Boldin’s rookie receptions record of 101?
But there should be plenty of opportunities for Jefferson to shine.
Diggs averaged 7.6 targets per game during his career in Minnesota. Now those will be Jefferson’s targets, so he should get plenty of chances to show off the reason he was a first round selection.