Justin Jefferson Is A Separation Artist
WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
Weight: 202 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.43 seconds
Vertical Jump: 37.5 inches
Broad Jump: 126.0 inches
3-Cone Drill: N/A
Over the past few seasons, we’ve seen some extremely talented wide receivers come out of LSU. Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and D.J. Chark all immediately spring to mind. In previous years though, those players have been very difficult to evaluate their complete skillset due to LSU’s proclivity to run the ball. However, this past season at LSU, that narrative changed.
If you follow College Football at all, you know that Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers put up a magical season. While the general narrative is that Joe Burrow is the reason for their success, which he’s a huge part, a lot of credit needs to be given to the wide receiver corps he was working with…specifically, a man wearing No. 2.
Justin Jefferson is one of the best receiver prospects that this class has to offer and the stats back that up. This season, Jefferson hauled in 111 receptions for 1540 yards and 18 touchdowns. Jefferson proved he can compete with the toughest corners the SEC has to offer and get open consistently with his elite route-running. Just how good is he though and where should we be considering drafting him in Dynasty rookie drafts?
Those questions are answered here in my detailed scouting report on Justin Jefferson (ratings out of five stars):
Over the past few seasons, we’ve seen less and less of a priority from NFL front offices on WRs needing to be 215 pounds or more. While Jefferson certainly isn’t slight or small, he’s not going to be the type of player to bully corners off the line of scrimmage. Jefferson primarily operated out of the slot this past season (78% in 2019, according to PFF), which projects as his best role in the NFL. However, he does have the size and speed to contend on the outside, which allows him to be moved around the formation as a chess piece for offensive coordinators.
Route Running/Ability to Separate
This is where Justin Jefferson shines. When you put on the tape, Jefferson is open on nearly every single play. He’s a mismatch out of the slot on linebackers and even smaller nickel corners due to his size. He has a lethal stutter step or shoulder fake to freeze defenders on slants, outs, etc. and has a great understanding of leverage on deeper routes and how to use positioning to create separation. The only concern moving forward will be Jefferson’s release off the line of scrimmage when he’s playing outside. Due to him playing frequently in the slot, he rarely saw press coverage, so there’s little evidence to ascertain his proficiencies in this area. Otherwise, he’s a near perfect prospect in this category.
.@JJettas2 using Rocker-Steps at the top of his route to make the DB wobble & create separation
DB thinks Post while Justin Jefferson is executing his plan. Tic-Tac-Toe pic.twitter.com/5BLQWms5MY
— Receiver School (@ReceiverSchool) February 7, 2020
Heading into the NFL Combine, this was one of the biggest questions hanging over Jefferson’s head. Would he run fast enough to not plummet his draft stock? If he could run faster than a 4.55 40-yard dash time, he’d be just fine. Instead, Jefferson came out and ran a blazing 4.43 40-yard dash, which shows that he has the ability to play outside and stretch the field. Due to his role as a slot receiver at LSU, there’s very little evidence of him opening things up and needing to get downfield, but the 40-yard dash time shows that he has it in his arsenal.
Jefferson is someone who wins at all three levels of the field. He can make defenders look silly in the short area of the field with his elite route-running, he can break in and out of routes easily in the intermediate levels of the field, and then he can go up and get it in contested situations downfield. Jefferson has some of the best hands in this class and it’s rare to see him drop a pass. The only concern would be knowing that Joe Burrow (the consensus 1.01 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft) was putting these passes right where they needed to be every time. If we see Jefferson end up with an inaccurate QB, there could be some issues that pop up. But nothing that I saw on tape would suggest that this would be a deal-breaker or large-scale issue in the NFL.
Justin Jefferson got 🆙 pic.twitter.com/sgc37HZpuf
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) December 14, 2019
Due to how Jefferson was utilized in the offense, there isn’t a high amount of film where he’s being asked to track the ball deep downfield. However, the instances or spots that he was asked to do it in, he excelled. His awareness and understanding of the game is easily evidenced on tape as well.
After the Catch
Jefferson did have a few spots on tape where he was able to break away and match a huge play, but his specialty is bringing in receptions in the short areas of the field. Obviously, the 40-yard dash time now gives us a glimpse that he may be able to do more of that at the NFL level, but he’s someone who will glide past a defender rather than knock them over or carry them on his back for extra yardage after contact.
Justin Jefferson can do it all!
Incredible play from #2. pic.twitter.com/rGrc4Pkzxl
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) December 14, 2019
Projected Draft Spot
Jefferson was a borderline first rounder before the NFL Combine, but now he’s solidified himself in the first round. The question now becomes: can he crack the Top-15? Jefferson’s a great WR prospect and would be talked about as the WR1 in this class if it didn’t feature a top-tier prospect like Jerry Jeudy. The teams to watch for Jefferson are the Cowboys, Dolphins, Raiders, Eagles, Bills, and Patriots. All these teams have needs at the WR position and we could see him go as early as No. 17 overall. Any of these spots would solidify Jefferson as a Top-7 selection in Dynasty rookie drafts.
While I don’t believe in true comparisons for college players coming out, I like to look at either the type of player they can be or the role they’ll play in the NFL. For me, Justin Jefferson will slide right into a Davante Adams role for an offense. Adams rotates into the slot, but also has the size, route-running acumen, and hands to win consistently on the outside. Jefferson’s going to be a great addition to your Dynasty rosters.
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