Justin Jefferson praises Burrow, Cousins? Less so…
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One of the more viral moments from the 2020 Minnesota Vikings season came when then rookie phenom Justin Jefferson scolded a scrambling Kirk Cousins for not delivering a touchdown strike as Jet broke from his route. Many “Never Cousins-ers” used that hot mic moment as proof that Cousins was an overpaid hack, while others pointed out that Cousins couldn’t make that throw as he was running for his life after the pocket collapsed (again).
After Jefferson went on to break every modern NFL rookie receiving record many thought that that moment was just Jefferson’s competitive spirit and (mostly) forgot that moment even happened.
Fast forward to the end of April, with the Vikings spending a third-round pick on ho-hum college prospect Kellen Mond, who NFL.com described as having a ceiling as a back-up in the NFL courtesy of “diminishing returns” when asked to do more with his arms (vs. his legs), and his “erratic” throws down the field and outside the numbers.
It was that profile that caused me to write that people should probably pump the brakes on crowning Mond the savior at the QB spot most Vikings fans under the age of 40 have hoped the team would draft and develop all their lives.
Apparently Jefferson has already circled 2022 (or ‘23?) on his calendar as he stopped by the (definitely NOT a serial killer) Colin Cowherd’s show this week.
Jefferson started by discussing the current state of the Vikings quarterback room by comparing Kirk Cousins and his former teammate Joe Burrow.
“Kirk and Joe throw similar balls,” Jefferson said. “They’re not the strongest arms, but they’re going to get it to you exactly where you need them to throw it. 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 and he’s not scared to get hit. 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.”
Now, if he describes Burrow (who was arguably the most effective college QB ever) as phenomenal, then Cousins could still be good-to-great in his book. Especially as he said that Cousins and Burrow have similar arms, while also saying that neither had the strongest arms.
So, the main comparison came from something that wasn’t necessarily all positive, even if he finished that statement by essentially saying that they both are very accurate. Now, I’ve never seen Cousins under throw a receiver or not be able to make every throw on the field, but clearly Jefferson knows more about this than I do. My point is that Cousins is accurate at every level of the field to the point that he is a top-3 quarterback in league history in that category.
Mond? Not so much, however it’s Jefferson’s statement about Mond that combined with the above has many people thinking that Jefferson isn’t a huge fan of Cousins.
“We have to build on for after Kirk or whatever the case may be,” Jefferson said. “Having Justin Fields brings a little bit more pressure to other teams by having a dominant quarterback like he is.”
Sounds like Jefferson would’ve loved if the Vikings and not the Bears landed Ohio State product Justin Fields over Cousins and Mond. However, that’s clearly not what happened and by linking Fields to this discussion he’s also basically implying that Cousins isn’t “dominant” as he wouldn’t bring up the pressure Fields created within the division if he felt the Vikings already had someone as good or better.
That’s a gigantic statement from Jefferson who, again, broke a ton of records with Cousins throwing him the ball. He hasn’t practiced with Mond yet but is coming to town Monday for the first team drills and did have this to say about Jefferson:
WR Justin Jefferson said he was working out in Miami during this offseason with Kellen Mond and now they're teammates. "I feel like he's going to be a good player on this team. … He has a very strong arm… I think he will be a great addition to this team.''
— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson)
We will see what the fallout from this, if any, will be. Perhaps he’ll stop by Cousins’ podcast? But if he was unhappy with Cousins’ very Russell Wilson esque 2020, the Vikings may be in deep(er) trouble if Mond doesn’t make an immediate splash at the position.
Only time will tell.
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