Before Justin Jefferson was drafted by the Vikings there were talks of him being a Stefon Diggs replacement. Now that he is actually on the roster those talks have ramped up, although the results may be different than originally anticipated.
Before we can assess what Jefferson brings we have to discuss what the offense lost when Diggs left town. Stefon was the best deep ball wide receiver in the NFL. He led the League in receptions, touchdowns, and yards on passes that traveled over twenty yards, all while only playing in fifteen regular season games. There were times last season Diggs looked unstoppable.
Justin Jefferson had one of the best statistical seasons from a NCAA Wide receiver ever, which included catching eighteen touchdown passes. He is a true route technician that does the vast majority of his damage from the slot, and the middle of the field. Like Diggs, Jefferson boasts strong hands and was uncontainable all season for LSU.
The one thing missing from Jefferson’s film is long speed to become a true deep threat. The plays of Jefferson running by defenders are few and far inbetween despite a 4.43 40 time. It remains to be seen if this is because of the sheer amount of off coverage he saw, but regardless a lot of his deep catches were heavily contested, which does not always translate well to the next level( see Laquon Treadwell). It would seem instead of finding a replacement for Diggs the Vikings found their successor to Adam Thielen.
Both are best in the slot, both are great in the middle of the field, and both are really good at catching contested deep passes. Their yards per catch rate had just a one yard difference. While Jefferson brings another possession-like contribution to the offense, it’ll be interesting to see how much Minnesota misses a true deep threat on the outside, it’ll be even more interesting to see if Jefferson can fill the hole for them.