First-round pick Justin Jefferson will look to make Vikings fans forget about Stefon Diggs.
After spending five years in Minnesota, the Vikings decided to ship stud receiver Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a package that included a first-round pick. The Vikings didn’t wait long to address the new hole in their wide receiver unit. Minnesota went on to use the Bills’ pick to select Justin Jefferson out of LSU.
Jefferson is coming off one of the best seasons from a wide receiver in recent memory. As a junior, Jefferson caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns. In the College Football Playoff alone, he was able to haul in 23 catches for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns in just two games.
After the season, Jefferson continued to impress scouts. He measured in at 6’1″ and 200 pounds, and was still able to run a 4.40 40-yard dash. That speed mixed with his smooth route running is enough to make scouts jaw drop. Oh, and once he is open, it is nearly impossible to bring him down.
At LSU, Jefferson was mainly tasked with lining up in the slot. Around 98% of his yards came from the slot. With the Vikings however, Jefferson will be asked to line up as an outside receiver. To put it into perspective, Stefon Diggs only lined up in the slot for 92 out of his 711 snaps last season.
Even though there will be an adjustment to go up against bigger cornerbacks in the NFL, Jefferson will transition smoothly to an outside role. Jefferson is tall and athletic high point the football and bring it down. Per PFF, Jefferson had 19 contested catches in his career and boasted a 92.3% contested catch rate.
Not only was this a smart move for the Vikings on the field, but it was also a good move salary cap-wise. Stefan Diggs is set to make around $12 million this season. Meanwhile, Jefferson is expected to make only $2.3 million. So, for a team like the Vikings, who have limited cap space, getting a cheaper option with just as much potential was very wise.
With not just Diggs gone, but also former first-round bust Laquon Treadwell is no longer with the team. With those two losses, there will be 110 targets available for Jefferson. He will fill in the void left by Diggs and will look to make a formidable duo along with Pro Bowl receiver Adam Thielen.