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2 NFL Teams Wishing They Drafted Justin Jefferson

2 NFL Teams Wishing They Drafted Justin Jefferson

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Justin Jefferson #18 of the NFL Minnesota Vikings celebrates scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

 

The Minnesota Vikings pulled off a rare instance of give and take in the NFL.

Before the 2020 NFL Draft, they sent wide receiver Stefon Diggs and their seventh-round pick to the Buffalo Bills.

In return, the Vikings got the Bills’ first, fifth, and sixth-round picks in the upcoming draft.

They ended up selecting LSU wideout Justin Jefferson with that first-round pick from Buffalo.

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It didn’t take long before Jefferson made an impact in the pros.

The Louisiana native played all 16 games last season and started in 14 of them.

Jefferson tallied 88 receptions for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns.

He broke Randy Moss’ franchise record of most receptions by a rookie in Week 15 against the Chicago Bears.

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Meanwhile, his receiving yards are an NFL record that surpassed the 1,377 that Anquan Boldin tallied in 2003.

Jefferson also had seven 100-yard games, including a 175-yard outing versus the Tennessee Titans, wherein he caught a 71-yard touchdown pass.

His impressive debut season prompted Sporting News to name him their Rookie of the Year.

He also became one of two rookies in the 2021 Pro Bowl with Washington’s Chase Young.

The Pro Football Writers Association also included him in their 2020 All-Rookie Team.

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Likewise, the No. 22 overall pick in the 2020 draft attained second-team All-Pro honors, too.

While the Vikings missed the playoffs, Jefferson is a can’t-miss star.

His emergence made a few general managers scratch their heads or even doubt why they did not select him.

Some of the teams that drafted before the Vikings wish to turn back time and choose the former Fighting Tiger instead.

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But here are two franchises that regret their decision because it could have turned their fate for the better.

 

2. San Francisco 49ers

The Niners drafted wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk three spots after Jefferson.

The former Arizona State standout did have solid numbers of 60 receptions, 748 yards, and five touchdowns in his rookie season.

But his performance still pales compared to Jefferson.

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San Francisco also owned the No. 14 overall pick in the 2020 draft, which they could have used for Jefferson.

Instead, they selected defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.

The former South Carolina lineman had a decent rookie season of 33 tackles, three tackles for losses, 1.5 sacks, and an interception.

Just like Jefferson, Kinlaw did make the All-Rookie team as well.

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However, imagine how dynamic the Niners’ receiving corps would be if Jefferson, Deebo Samuel, and Mohamed Sanu lined up at once.

Jefferson could be the difference-maker that would help the 49ers emerge in the highly competitive NFC West.

 

1. Tennessee Titans

Reigning Offensive Player of the Year Derrick Henry stabilizes Tennessee’s run game for the foreseeable future.

In contrast, the Titans passing game had a few rough patches despite Ryan Tannehill’s accuracy.

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Still, the franchise drafted offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson with the No. 29 overall pick.

At present, the Titans have respectable wideouts in A.J. Brown and Julio Jones.

Jefferson would have made them a three-headed monster that punishes opposing defensive backs to submission.

But Tennessee will regret not trading up for Jefferson because of how Wilson unraveled.

He played in just one game and spent significant time on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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The lack of playing time prompted Wilson to tweet that he will be quitting playing for the Titans.

The franchise responded by trading him to the Miami Dolphins.

His stint there ended three days later because he missed two workouts and a physical.

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Wilson also had his share of legal troubles that will make the Titans cringe about his selection.

They could have traded up and picked Jefferson had they known how Wilson would turn out.

Having Jefferson and Henry on one team can give opponents nightmares on the field.



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