PPT: Is It Possible for Justin Jefferson to be Even Better?

Nov 21, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) and wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Folks, Justin Jefferson is still only 23. Coming out of college, many expected him to struggle to adjust to the NFL, especially if he was lined up out wide. I was certainly among those who were cautioning about expectations that were soaring too high. Many were looking to him to replace Stefon Diggs, which I thought was very misguided. How wonderfully wrong I was.

As a rookie, Justin Jefferson had 88 catches, 1400 yards, and 7 TDs. He then improved on that production during his sophomore season: 108 catches, 1616 yards, and 10 TDs. I’d be lying if I said I could foresee this occurring. I was the one preaching caution.

On the one hand, it feels foolish to talk about him doing even more. He’s already the team’s best player and he’s already putting up historically great numbers. It feels almost unfair to wonder about him doing even more. On the other hand, it feels even more foolish to speculate about him already reaching his ceiling. He’s still so young and has exceeded everyone’s expectations. I’ve been wrong for two straight offseasons when it comes to Jefferson. Heading into 2022, I’m making the adjustment: I’ll merely acknowledge that Jefferson is already elite and that it’s entirely plausible he ascends even higher.

It’s wild to think that even though we’ve all seen how brilliant he is, Justin Jefferson still hasn’t gotten the individual recognition he deserves. He (wrongly) finished second to Justin Herbert for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He has finished as a 2nd-team All Pro for his opening two years in the NFL. He has made the Pro Bowl in both seasons, but that’s a distinction that is less significant. One wonders if the 2nd place finishes will motivate the young receiver.

Justin Jefferson will be the cornerstone for the offense. True, QB is the game’s most important position, and Kevin O’Connell is wisely planning on making things easy for his QB. Nevertheless, Jefferson is the player who inspires the most fear in opposing defenses. He will have a gravitational pull on the secondary. Finding ways to still be able to feature him falls to O’Connell and Cousins. If successful, we may see Jefferson keep improving on his already incredible numbers.

Editor’s Note: This series considers a variety of questions that Minnesota will be looking to answer during training camp and the preseason. The point is simply to provide concise discussions of pertinent purple topics. We’ll do one per day leading up to training camp, which begins on July 24th.