When you have a player like Justin Jefferson, it’s very difficult to compare him to other players. He is just such a special player with what he has done in his first two seasons in the NFL.
It’s Lofty, but Justin Jefferson Reminds Me of Jerry Rice
Jefferson doesn’t have Cris Carter’s body, and he’s not as big a weapon inside the slot. Art Monk was a different type of player. He has better straight-line speed than Tim Brown had. I don’t think Jerry Rice, even in his heyday, had that top-end speed, but I think there are some comparisons there between him and Jefferson.
You can look at their body types, their athleticism when the ball is in the air and how they attack it in the air. You look at their short-area quickness, and their ability to stop and adjust. I think their ability to adjust to the ball whether it’s high, low or behind them.
Jefferson is good in traffic, outside the numbers and on the boundary; he’s got that spatial awareness. And the other thing he does very well is he’s a very confident catcher of the football. You don’t see many throws get in on his body. He does a great job catching the ball with his hands extended. He’s got great, strong hands. I think he’s gotten better at the line of scrimmage. The best receivers create instant separation at the line, and he does a great job of that. He has great first-step quickness, a stutter step and can get on top of corners quickly—and separate once he does.
His Teammates Deserve Some Credit
Let’s give a little bit of credit where credit is due: Jefferson also has a quarterback, Kirk Cousins, who’s very accurate, has been in that system and has a lot of confidence throwing the ball. That goes a long way. You can be a great receiver and not have a very accurate quarterback. Say what you want about Cousins, but he is extremely accurate and puts up good stats even in an off-year. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, but he gives his receivers a chance to make a play on the football.
The other thing that benefits Justin Jefferson is Adam Thielen. He’s good for 10 touchdowns a season in the red zone. He’s another good target you have to respect from a defensive standpoint, so that takes some of the doubles off of Jefferson.
A New Offense will Help Jefferson, Too
Another thing that benefits Jefferson is this new-look offense Kevin O’Connell brings. They’re going to move Jefferson around a lot more than we saw his first two seasons in the league. I think that will free him up and give him opportunities in one-on-one coverage.
We are talking about a player who shattered every receiving record the Vikings had for a player’s first two years. When you consider that Randy Moss was once a Viking, Jefferson is in pretty good company.