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Minnesota Vikings 2020 first-round pick Justin Jefferson had his first real NFL impact this past Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. The former LSU wide receiver hauled in seven balls for 175 yards and a score. We decided to break down each reception from his successful day. 

Jefferson is in the slot toward the bottom of the screen. 

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The Situation: 4:43 in the first quarter, second-and-6. 

Jefferson lines up in the slot on this play as Dalvin Cook comes out wide. The Titans appear to be in zone coverage, Tennessee cornerback Malcolm Butler bumps Cook but, while doing so, leaves an open space for Jefferson to fill. The rookie takes what was given to him. 

Jefferson is at the bottom of the screen. 

The Situation: 3:30 in the first quarter, second-and-8. 

Butler lines up over Jefferson on this play. Jefferson comes off the line with a hesitation step as an attempt to get on the outside of Butler. It works well enough to gain leverage and create separation on the out route. The main critique for Jefferson on this is hoping to see him break the one-on-one tackle for a bigger gain, but that’s nitpicking. 

Jefferson is at the bottom of the screen. 

The Situation: 14:48 in the second quarter, first-and-10. 

Jefferson is covered by Johnathan Joseph on this play. Unlike Butler, Joseph plays off the line from Jefferson. That ends up being a mistake that Jefferson takes advantage of. On a dig route, Jefferson does well to sell a vertical route before breaking inside. Joseph has no chance to catch up, and Jefferson picks up a nice gain. 

Jefferson is at the top of the screen. 

The Situation: 13:40 in the second quarter, second-and-7. 

This play is similar to the out route Jefferson had against Butler earlier. However, this time, instead of using just his footwork for separation, Jefferson fights through Butler’s jam and uses it to get to the outside again. 

Jefferson is at the top of the screen. 

The Situation: 9:51 in the second quarter, third-and-3. 

Jefferson doesn’t allow Butler to jam him on this play. The wide receiver creates enough space with another hesitation step on this vertical route to give Kirk Cousins a window to throw in. Cousins puts the ball well on a back shoulder throw, Jefferson adjusts perfectly to come down with the catch for a big gain. 

Jefferson is toward the bottom of the screen. 

The Situation: 2:44 in the second quarter, second-and-9.

The Vikings line up again with Jefferson in the slot and Cook outside. Tennessee once again comes out in zone coverage. Jefferson finds the soft spot in the coverage and curls back to Cousins. He then has the wherewithal to understand there was no Titans player on the boundary, and runs toward that to gain more yardage.  

Jefferson is at the bottom of the screen. 

The Situation: 8:17 in the third quarter, second-and-8.

The biggest play of the day is Jefferson’s 71-yard touchdown catch. Jefferson lines up inside of Adam Thielen as the only two wide receivers on the field. Minnesota is lined up in 21 personnel. Because of that, the Titans have four defensive backs on the field. As one safety creeps toward the line of scrimmage, leaving a single-high look. Jefferson blows by Joseph, who appears to think he’ll have safety help, but Kenny Vaccaro’s eyes were locked on Thielen. By the time the ball is headed toward Jefferson, Vaccaro is too far to help. Jefferson then makes both Joseph and Vaccaro miss for the big play touchdown. 

The Vikings were hoping for these types of performances when they selected Jefferson in the first round to help replace the production of Stefon Diggs. Minnesota’s offense finally opened up in Week 3. A large reason for that was Jefferson’s performance and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. 

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Brady Vernon is a recent graduate of Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He is currently pursuing a Master's degree through Gonzaga University. He is an avid sports fan with aspirations of being a NFL Beat Reporter or a role in a NFL front office. Follow him on Twitter @BradyVernon
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