Justin Jefferson

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Justin Jefferson
refer to caption
Jefferson in 2022
No. 18 – Minnesota Vikings
Position:Wide receiver
Personal information
Born: (1999-06-16) June 16, 1999 (age 24)
St. Rose, Louisiana, U.S.
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:195 lb (88 kg)
Career information
High school:Destrehan (Destrehan, Louisiana)
College:LSU (2017–2019)
NFL draft:2020 / Round: 1 / Pick: 22
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
NFL record
  • Most receiving yards per game (career): 98.3[1]
Career NFL statistics as of Week 18, 2023
Receptions:392
Receiving yards:5,899
Receiving touchdowns:30
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Justin Jamal Jefferson (born June 16, 1999)[2] is an American football wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the LSU Tigers, where he won the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship as a junior before being drafted by the Vikings in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Upon joining the league, Jefferson was named to the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro team in each of his first three seasons and has amassed the most receiving yards through a player's first four seasons. In 2022, at 23 years old, he became the youngest player to lead the league in receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,809), earning Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Early years[edit]

Jefferson attended Destrehan High School in Destrehan, Louisiana.[3] A low three-star prospect, ranked by 247Sports as the nation's 308th best wide receiver coming out of high school, he committed to Louisiana State University (LSU) to play college football.[4][5]

College career[edit]

Jefferson with LSU in 2019

Jefferson played at LSU for three years under head coach Ed Orgeron.[6]

2017–2018[edit]

After appearing in two games and not recording a catch his first year at LSU in 2017, Jefferson was their leading receiver in 2018 with 54 catches for 875 yards and six touchdowns.[7][8][9] He scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 65-yard reception from Joe Burrow against Ole Miss on September 29, 2018.[10] He had two games going over the 100-yard mark with 108 in a victory over Georgia and 117 in a victory over Arkansas.[11][12]

2019[edit]

In the Tigers' second game of the 2019 season, Jefferson had nine receptions for 163 yards and three touchdowns in a 45–38 victory on the road against Texas.[13] On October 12, against Florida, he had ten receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown in the 42–28 victory.[14] In the SEC Championship, against Georgia, he had seven receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown in the 37–10 victory.[15] Jefferson and the Tigers qualified for the College Football Playoffs with an undefeated record in the 2019 season.[16] He had a historic performance in the Peach Bowl, catching 14 passes for 227 yards and four touchdowns against the Oklahoma Sooners in the College Football Playoff Semifinals. All four touchdowns came in the first half, and set a College Football Playoff game record and tied the record for any bowl game.[17] In the National Championship against Clemson, he had nine receptions for 106 yards in the 42–25 victory.[18] In his junior season, Jefferson led the country with 111 receptions. His 18 receiving touchdowns ranked second in the country—behind only teammate Ja'Marr Chase—and his 1,540 receiving yards were third most. He had eight games going over the 100-yard mark.[19][20] On January 15, 2020, Jefferson announced that he would forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.[21]

Statistics[edit]

LSU Tigers
Season Receiving Rushing
Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Att Yds Avg Lng TD
2017 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 4 4.0 4 0
2018 54 875 16.2 65 6 5 26 5.2 19 0
2019 111 1,540 13.9 71 18 0 0 0.0 0 0
Career 165 2,415 14.6 71 24 6 30 5.0 19 0

Professional career[edit]

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split Vertical jump Broad jump Wonderlic
6 ft 1+14 in
(1.86 m)
202 lb
(92 kg)
33 in
(0.84 m)
9+18 in
(0.23 m)
4.43 s 1.57 s 2.61 s 37.5 in
(0.95 m)
10 ft 6 in
(3.20 m)
19
All values from NFL Combine[22][23][24]

2020[edit]

Jefferson was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round with the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.[25] The Vikings previously obtained the 22nd selection as part of a blockbuster trade that sent wide receiver Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills, a trade that has been considered by many around the league as one of the “top win-win deals ever.”[26][27] Jefferson signed a four-year, $13.12 million contract with the team, with a $7.1 million signing bonus.[28] Jefferson was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by the team on July 27, 2020,[29] before being cleared and activated a week later.[30] Jefferson made his debut in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers, recording two receptions for 26 yards.[31] He made his first start of the season in a Week 3 game against the Tennessee Titans, where he had his first big breakthrough by finishing with 175 receiving yards and a touchdown on seven receptions, but the Vikings lost 30–31.[32] He followed up that performance the next week with four receptions for 103 yards in a 31–23 win over the Houston Texans. In doing so, he became just the fifth rookie wide receiver in Vikings history to have back-to-back games with at least 100 yards receiving.[33] During Week 6 against the Atlanta Falcons, Jefferson finished with nine receptions for 166 receiving yards and two touchdowns .[34]

In Week 13 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jefferson recorded nine catches for 121 yards and a touchdown during a 27–24 overtime win, in this game he broke the 1,000 receiving yard mark.[35] In Week 15 against the Chicago Bears, Jefferson broke Randy Moss' Vikings rookie receiving record by catching eight passes, putting him at 74 receptions, surpassing the 69 catches Moss had in 1998.[36]

By the season's end, Jefferson had set the NFL record for most receiving yards (1,400) by a rookie in NFL history after surpassing Anquan Boldin's 1,377 yards in 2003 (although his record would be broken by his former LSU teammate Ja'Marr Chase the following season).[37] He was one of only two rookies named to the 2021 Pro Bowl, alongside defensive end Chase Young of the Washington Football Team.[38] He was named Rookie of the Year by the Sporting News.[39] He was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team.[40] He was ranked 53rd by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2021.[41]

2021[edit]

Jefferson's season started strong, putting up over 100 receiving yards against the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, and Los Angeles Chargers over the first eight games of the season. In Week 11, Jefferson had eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns in a 34–31 win over the Packers, earning NFC Offensive Player of the Week.[42] In Week 13, Jefferson caught 11 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown in a 29–27 loss to the Lions. Jefferson's 464 yards and three touchdowns through four games in the month of November earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Month, the first of his career.[43] During Week 16, Jefferson passed Odell Beckham Jr. for most receiving yards by a player in his first two NFL seasons.[44] Jefferson finished the season with 1,616 receiving yards, good for second-most in the NFL in 2021, and just 16 yards short of Randy Moss's single-season franchise record.[45][46][47][48] Jefferson was named to the 2022 Pro Bowl, joining Randy Moss and Sammy White as the only three Vikings wide receivers to make Pro Bowls in each of their first two professional seasons.[49][50] For the second consecutive year, Jefferson was named a second-team member of the AP All-Pro team, missing a spot on the first-team by a single vote.[51] He was ranked 17th by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2022.[52]

2022[edit]

Jefferson during pre-game warm-ups in 2022

Against the Packers in Week 1, Jefferson caught nine passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns in the 23–7 win.[53] During Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Jefferson finished with 147 receiving yards and a rushing touchdown as the Vikings won 28–25.[54] The following week against Bears, Jefferson caught a career-high 12 catches resulting in 154 yards receiving in the 29–22 win.[55] Jefferson's third catch of the game marked 227 career receptions, surpassing Randy Moss for the franchise record of the most receptions in the first three years of a career.[56]

Against the Buffalo Bills in Week 10, Jefferson caught 10 passes for a career-high 193 yards and a touchdown as the Vikings went on to win 33–30 in overtime.[57] One of Jefferson's catches came with two minutes left in the fourth quarter where on 4th down and 18, Jefferson made a one-handed catch for 32 yards, wrestling the ball away from Bills cornerback Cam Lewis on the way to the ground. The catch was widely heralded as one of the greatest of all time,[58] and the play was named the NFL Play of the Year Award at the end of the season. His arm sleeves and gloves from the game were also put on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[59] He earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his game against the Bills.[60] In Week 12, against the New England Patriots, he had nine receptions for 139 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown in the 33–26 victory.[61] In the game against the Patriots, Jefferson passed Moss for the most receiving yards in a player's first three seasons.[62] He won NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November.[63] In Week 14 against the Lions, Jefferson recorded 11 receptions for 223 yards, setting the Vikings single-game record for receiving yards, in the 34–23 road loss.[64] Additionally, in week 15 against the Indianapolis Colts, Jefferson recorded 12 receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown, setting his season total to 1,623 yards, a new career high.[65] Against the Packers in Week 17, he was held to one catch on five targets for 15 yards, the lowest stats in a game of his career. During the same game, Jefferson appeared to inadvertently hit a referee with his helmet out of clear frustration, and received no punishment for the incident.[66][67] He earned first-team All-Pro honors and a third Pro Bowl nomination for his career.[68][69]

Jefferson finished the 2022 regular season with a league-leading 128 receptions for 1,809 yards and nine total touchdowns (eight receiving, one rushing).[70] He won the Offensive Player of the Year award, as well as being a final candidate for the league MVP award.[71][72] He was ranked second by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2023.[73]

2023[edit]

On April 25, 2023, the Vikings picked up the fifth-year option of Jefferson's rookie contract.[74] Jefferson started the 2023 regular season with nine receptions for 150 yards in a 20–17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.[75] Four days later, he had 11 receptions for 159 in a 34–28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2.[76] In Week 3, against the Los Angeles Chargers, he had seven receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown in the 28–24 loss.[77] In Week 4, he had two receiving touchdowns against the Carolina Panthers in the 21–13 victory.[78] On October 11, 2023, the Vikings placed Jefferson on injured reserve, due to a hamstring injury suffered in Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs.[79] The Vikings activated Jefferson off injured reserve on November 28, 2023.[80] In his return against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 14, Jefferson caught two passes for 27 yards before leaving with a chest injury in the second quarter.[81]

Despite missing seven games due to injury, Jefferson still managed to finish the 2023 season with over 1,000 receiving yards.[82] During the season, he set an NFL record for most receiving yards through a player's first four seasons.[83]

NFL career statistics[edit]

Legend
AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year
NFL record
Led the league
Bold Career best

Regular season[edit]

Year Team Games Receiving Rushing Fumbles
GP GS Rec Yds Avg Y/G Lng TD Att Yds Avg Lng TD Fum Lost
2020 MIN 16 14 88 1,400 15.9 87.5 71 7 1 2 2.0 2 0 1 0
2021 MIN 17 17 108 1,616 15.0 95.1 56 10 6 14 2.3 11 0 1 1
2022 MIN 17 17 128 1,809 14.1 106.4 64 8 4 24 6.0 10 1 0 0
2023 MIN 10 9 68 1,074 15.8 107.4 52 5 1 −12 −12.0 −12 0 1 1
Career 60 57 392 5,899 15.0 98.3 71 30 12 28 2.3 11 1 3 2

Postseason[edit]

Year Team Games Receiving Fumbles
GP GS Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Fum Lost
2022 MIN 1 1 7 47 6.7 10 0 0 0
Career 1 1 7 47 6.7 10 0 0 0

Personal life[edit]

His brothers, Jordan and Rickey, also played college football at LSU. Their father, John, played Division II college basketball.[84] On April 27, 2021, Jefferson was the first NFL player to be added to Fortnite with the dance, the Griddy.[85]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]