Justin Jefferson may be wearing a purple uniform but he holds a special place in his heart for midnight green. It’s not a warm or fuzzy destination for last year’s 22nd overall pick, though.
The Minnesota Vikings wide receiver was on the board when the Philadelphia Eagles were on the clock last year. There was a consensus among draft experts — and some scouts in the Eagles’ organization, per reports — that Jefferson was going to be the pick. But Philly’s card had Jalen Reagor’s name on it and Jefferson went one pick later to Minnesota.
Water under the bridge, right? Maybe not.
Never forget the Vikings laughing at the Eagles for skipping Justin Jefferson 💀
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 20, 2021
Jefferson has been very outspoken about the Eagles choosing Reagor over him and he brought it up again on Wednesday during a new interview with GQ magazine. He admitted a potential Eagles-Vikings game would “definitely be edgier” if the two teams ever met. They aren’t scheduled to meet up until 2022.
A lot of people had me going to Philly. And, I thought I was going to Philly. Honestly. The funny part is, Philly was on the board and then Minnesota called me. At first, I thought it was Philly. But, I answered the phone and it was Minnesota. It’s crazy how all of that happened and everything. But, I’m definitely, definitely, definitely excited that I’m on the Vikings rather than Philly.
Jefferson set a slew of rookie records in his first year, including the most receiving yards (1,400) by a first-year player in NFL history. He finished with 88 receptions for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns en route to Pro Bowl honors.
Justin Jefferson: the only rookie with 100+ snaps and a PFF grade of 90+ pic.twitter.com/qeVOX28OCT
— PFF (@PFF) December 31, 2020
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Eagles GM Says Draft Remains ‘Inexact Science’
Perhaps Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was reading Jefferson’s comments before he stepped to the podium to address this year’s draft process. He seemed to acknowledge that mistakes have been made in recent years, although he wasn’t ready to take on all the blame. Roseman told reporters on Wednesday that sometimes talent evaluation can be an “inexact science.”
“It hasn’t always been perfect. The draft is an inexact science,” Roseman said. “When you look at hit rates throughout the draft and where you’re picking, whether it’s in the first round and going down less and you look at the rest of the league, it’s certainly an inexact science.”
Howie Roseman calls NFL draft an “inexact science” but it’s their job to hit on the picks they make. Andy Weidl added that the scouts are an “extension of the coaching staff.” They need to find guys that can “hit the ground and go.” #Eagles #FlyEaglesFly
— Michael Greger (@mike_greger) April 21, 2021
Roseman has come under increasing fire in Philadelphia — heck, a “Fire Howie” chant broke out at a Phillies game — but he remains committed to building a championship contender. Remember, he’s only three years removed from winning the Super Bowl.
“We’re constantly striving to do better,” Roseman said. “But at the same time, we have a lot of good players on this team who have been through those drafts and been part of the draft process. But this process, this year with the coaches, with the scouts has allowed us to really sit down and talk about a lot of these things and figure out the best way to maximize our 11 picks in this draft.”
Making Those 11 Picks Count This Year
Let’s be clear: no one is ready to call Reagor a bust. He played in just 11 games last year as he battled two serious injuries, coming back ahead of doctor’s orders each time. The burner out of Texas Christian finished with 31 catches for 396 yards and a touchdown. The organization believes his ceiling is high, something they seemed to prove by trading down six spots to pick No. 12.
The Eagles gained extra picks to move back in this draft and seemingly priced themselves out of one of the top receivers (Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle). Maybe that’s because Roseman believes strongly in Reagor to produce in Year 2.
“If you move back, it’s because you feel like you have a bunch of guys that are the same value,” Roseman said, “and you’d be really happy getting one and getting the extra volume from that pick. If you move up, it’s because your board kind of drops off at that point. And if you select it’s because you feel like it’s the last player in that sort of range.”
— TCU Football (@TCUFootball) April 10, 2021