It’s quite possible the New England Patriots are about to face the best wide receiver in football this Thursday night when they play Justin Jefferson and the Minnesota Vikings.
For the latest on the Patriots, check out WEEI and Audacy's "1st and Foxborough."
Jefferson currently ranks second in the league with 1,093 yards, trailing only Tyreek Hill, and helped the Vikings knock off the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago with one of the most insanely clutch catches you’ll ever see.
You don’t need to tell Bill Belichick how special the man is.
“He’s been phenomenal,” he said when asked Tuesday about Jefferson’s career thus far. “He was no secret [coming out of the draft], but it was hard to envision the amount of success he’s had in three years. The numbers are historic.”
Interestingly, Jefferson went No. 22 overall, which was one selection before the Patriots were slated to pick in 2020. (New England traded down from No. 23 to pick up multiple Day 2 picks, one of which was used on Kyle Dugger 37th overall.)
When asked about how much of an inexact science the draft can be given that so many teams missed on Jefferson, Belichick made an eye-opening comparison to another player who fell further in the draft than he ought to have in hindsight: Rob Gronkowski, who went 42nd overall in 2010.
“Gronkowski would’ve been a top-10 pick too if you knew what his production was going to be,” Belichick said. “You’re talking about Hall-of-Fame-type guys that are not in the top 10. He should’ve been in the top 10.”
Obviously, we’re a ways away from knowing if Jefferson is going to be a Hall-of-Famer, let alone one of the most dominant football players of all time as Gronkowski was.
But you can definitely say two things: 21 teams missed out on an incredible player in 2020, and the Patriots could have their hands full with him on Thursday.