In each of the last two years, Justin Jefferson has been one of the most productive wide receivers in the game. As a junior at LSU, Jefferson caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touches. That performance led to the Minnesota Vikings making him the No. 22 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and he proceeded to set the all-time rookie record for receiving yards by catching 88 passes for 1,400 yards and seven scores.
Jefferson has had the good fortune of getting some excellent quarterback play in each of those seasons. At LSU, his quarterback was Joe Burrow, who of course would go on to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. With the Vikings, Jefferson's quarterback was Kirk Cousins.
In an interview with Colin Cowherd, Jefferson was asked to compare the two quarterbacks.
"Kirk and Joe throw similar balls. They're not the strongest arm, but they're gonna get it to you exactly where you need it," Jefferson said. "The thing about Joe that's a little bit different, I feel like Joe has a little bit more swagger. He has that confidence on the field. He's not scared to get hit, and I feel like as a quarterback, that's a big trait to have -- especially to be as young as he is. He's a phenomenal quarterback."
It's interesting to hear a player be so openly complimentary of a quarterback on another team, but they were college teammates, so it does make sense. Jefferson has also heaped praise on Cousins before, and wondered why it is that Cousins tends to get so much more criticism than other top quarterbacks in the NFL.
Still, Jefferson said he was not surprised when he heard the rumors that the Vikings were interested in Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, had he been available to them in the draft.
"No," Jefferson said, indicating his lack of surprise. "We have to build on for after Kirk, or whatever the case may be. Having Justin Fields brings a little bit more pressure to other teams by having a dominant quarterback like he is."
Cousins is heading into his age-33 season and will count for $31 million against the Vikings' cap this year. Incredibly, he's set to have a $45 million cap hit next season, thanks to the two-year, fully-guaranteed $66 million extension he signed with the Vikings in 2020. That makes it extremely difficult for the Vikings to move on from the Cousins era before the 2023 season. Perhaps that played a role in the team ultimately deciding against making an aggressive move to trade up for Fields, and led to their division rivals, the Chicago Bears, doing it instead.