How Justin Jefferson Will Replace Stefon Diggs in 2020

  • 2020 NFL Draft
  • Adam Thielen'
  • Dillon Mitchell
  • Gary Kubiak
  • Justin Jefferson
  • K.J. Osborn
  • Kirk Cousins
  • Mike Zimmer
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • Olabisi Johnson
  • Quartney Davis
  • Rick Spielman
  • Stefon Diggs
By Alan Helimsky May 27, 2020 0 Comment
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Exit Stefon Diggs, enter Justin Jefferson. How can the new Minnesota Vikings’ wide receiver help replace the departed Diggs in his rookie season?

With the 22nd overall selection in the 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings were happy to select LSU wide receiver and National Champion Justin Jefferson. The stand-out ex-Tiger garnered a lot of interest from NFL teams, but he fell to the Vikings at pick 22, a pick they got from the Buffalo Bills in a trade for disgruntled receiver Stefon Diggs.

As a Junior at LSU, Jefferson compiled some incredible numbers, including 111 catches, 1540 yards, and 18 touchdowns – all thrown from number one overall pick quarterback Joe Burrow.

Minnesota will likely start Justin Jefferson in Week one opposite veteran Viking receiver Adam Thielen. With Thielen serving as the number one, Jefferson should see a lot of chances to make a name for himself. The Vikings certainly drafted a player capable of relieving the loss of Stefon Diggs.

Out with the old, in with the new

The Minnesota Vikings were facing a tall order on Day one of the 2020 NFL Draft. “How do we replace the production of Stefon Diggs?” In Diggs’ five year career with the Vikings, he caught 365 passes for 4623 yards and hauled in 30 touchdowns. Not to mention he gave the Vikings the “Minneapolis Miracle”, which is arguably the biggest passing touchdown in Minnesota history.

General Manager Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer felt they found “their guy” prior to the draft and were ecstatic to watch the Philadelphia Eagles choose receiver Jalen Reagor at the pick just before theirs. New Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak was even ready to move up a few picks to select Jefferson.

Justin Jefferson will not be able to replace Diggs as the same deep threat receiver that Diggs was. However, Jefferson’s sure-handedness and pristine route-running ability will him to excel. Coaches can place him in the same “X-receiver” position Diggs was in last season. At LSU, Jefferson worked primarily from the slot but can play outside as well.

Plug and Play Ability

When you play for Mike Zimmer, there is no guarantee that you will start every game of your rookie season. Even rookie Stefon Diggs didn’t catch his first pass for the Vikings until week four of the 2015 season. Coach Zimmer may have to adjust his beliefs this season. The Vikings wide receiver room is thin at starting-caliber talent after Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson.

In late March, the Vikings signed receiver Tajae Sharpe to a one-year, $1 million deal. They later drafted receiver K.J. Osborn from Miami in the 5th round and signed Undrafted Free Agent receiver Quartney Davis from Texas A&M. Osborn will likely see the field the most in 2020 as a return specialist. Quartney Davis is an intriguing prospect but will have to compete with the likes of Chad Beebe, Alexander Hollins, and Olabisi Johnson, and Dillon Mitchell for a roster spot.

Getting Justin Jefferson involved early and often will help the Vikings push toward the NFL Playoffs once again. Kirk Cousins must build chemistry with his new wide receiver as early as possible in order to do so. Adam Thielen will provide excellent leadership for Jefferson.

Stat Projections for Justin Jefferson as a rookie

Justin Jefferson spoke on CBS Sports Radio’s “The Zach Gelb Show” after the draft, where he vowed to “make the teams who took a wide receiver instead of him pay.”

“Every single person that picked a receiver instead of me are going to pay,” Jefferson said. “I’m going to show them that I am a better receiver than the pick that they had. . . . I’m definitely excited to go into Minnesota and compete for a Super Bowl.”

In 2020, Jefferson will amass 74 catches, 875 yards, and eight touchdowns.

The bottom line is that Jefferson may not fully replace Stefon Diggs’ yearly production as a rookie. However, he will finish his rookie season as a sterling number two wide receiver for the Vikings. He excels at route running, contested catches, and yards after catch. These are the same components that Stefon Diggs brought to Minnesota.

With Adam Thielen’s leadership, his perfect fit in offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s scheme and his motivation to truly be the best wide receiver in his draft class, Jefferson is set to become an excellent number two wide receiver for the 2020 Minnesota Vikings offense.

Justin Jefferson will wear #18 for the Minnesota Vikings.

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