The moment that changed the Vikings: When the Eagles dropped Justin Jefferson in the 2020 draft – InForum

MINNEAPOLIS — In the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings sat at No. 22, eagerly waiting for the Philadelphia Eagles to make their pick to see who would still be on the board.

Due to the pandemic, former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and various members of the front office have had to do business via Zoom. Each of them assumed that Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was going to go for a receiver with the No. 21 pick.

“Alright, the choice is made and we’re on time,” Kelly Kleine, former Vikings player personnel manager, can be heard in a clip that has since gone viral on social media. “Jalen Reagor, wide receiver, TCU, at Eagles.”

The reaction of the Vikings is priceless.

Whether it was Spielman literally laughing out loud or Zimmer taking off his glasses — partly in disbelief, partly in celebration — the Vikings were thrilled the Eagles had just passed on what they considered generational talent.

Justin Jefferson

“Let’s go get him,” Spielman can be heard saying with a huge grin on his face. “Put Justin Jefferson on the clock right now. Wow.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Within two years, Jefferson completely changed the Vikings’ trajectory. He had the best start of any receiver in NFL history, compiling 196 receptions for 3,016 yards and 17 touchdowns in two seasons in the league.

On the other hand, not only was Reagor underwhelming during his time with the Eagles, he was constantly being compared to Jefferson at every turn. In a bizarre twist of fate, the Vikings acquired Reagor from the Eagles last month.

When asked if it hurt to be known as the player who made the pick ahead of Jefferson in the draft, Reagor noted that the rest of the story was still not written for him. Just because it takes Reagor a little longer to reach his full potential doesn’t mean he can’t get there at some point.

In the meantime, it’s safe to say that no one really knows what Jefferson’s full potential is at this point. He’s currently on track to be one of the best receivers in NFL history, and his 9-catch, 184-yard performance against rival Green Bay Packers last weekend is another reminder of that.

He unlocked another dimension for the Vikings with his incredible skills. Plus, current coach Kevin O’Connell has already shown himself to be more capable of maximizing Jefferson’s talents in ways Zimmer never imagined.

As for his memories of the 2020 NFL Draft, Jefferson admitted this week that he fully expected to go to the Eagles in the first round. Why would he think anything else? Almost every fictional draft had him going there.

“Just getting a phone call and Minnesota was definitely a shock,” Jefferson said. “I’m definitely happy – much happier – to be here than there.”

While the wound from Jefferson’s death is still fresh for most Eagles fans, understandably, the Vikings are hoping to rub some salt on it on Monday Night Football.

“I heard about their fans and heard about their atmosphere,” Jefferson said. “These are the best wins, when their stands are quiet and their fans leave the stadium early. I love these away games. I live for those kinds of moments. I’m really excited for this.

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