In the year of LSU, one name has stood out the most. Joe Burrow. His Heisman winning campaign was an incredible season and one that will talked about for ages. However, to be a great Quarterback, you need a great Wide Receiver.
Enter Justin Jefferson.
Jefferson, J’Marr Chase, and Thadeuss Moss were all great weapons for the projected number one overall pick. So much so that all three are projected to be top draft picks (Chase, however, will have to wait a year.) The former stands out the most for his athletic build and ridiculously strong hands. After a thrilling combine and his stock steadily rising, let’s dive into one of the most intriguing prospects of 2020.
This is Justin Jefferson.
Jefferson played his high school career at Destrehan High School. He committed to LSU as a 3-Star prospect on August 8th, 2017. In his freshman season, Jefferson barely saw the field, working mostly special teams. He didn’t record his first catch until his sophomore season in 2018. During that season, Jefferson went on to be LSU top receiver, leading the team with 54 catches for 875 yards and 6 touchdowns. LSU’s record breaking, national championship winning 2019 season is where Jefferson, among all the other LSU prospects, really took flight. His 111 catches was the best in the nation. And his 18 touchdown grabs was only second to his teammate J’marr Chase. He also secured the third most yards in the nation at 1540. In the Peach Bowl, Jefferson tied a bowl game record with four touchdowns in the first half. Capping off his historic performance with 227 yards and 14 catches. Jefferson of course, finished his collegiate career on top with a national championship. He also was named second team All-SEC.
At the 2020 NFL Combine, Jefferson turned heads with his 4.43 40 time and 37.5″ vertical jump. He also proved sharp during drills, including the famous gauntlet drill. Jefferson appears to be the third or fourth best receiver in the stacked class and is poised to be a first round pick.
However, who will be drafting the LSU star?
Green Bay Packers
The Packers have tried, and failed, to find someone to pair star WR Davante Adams with. However, with this draft class, it’ll be hard to miss their shot. The Packers’ low draft pick may cause problems at grabbing one of the top guys, so trading up may be crucial in securing Jefferson. Judging by their combine interviews, it seems to be a split between TCU’s Jalen Reagor, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault and Jefferson himself as the first round targets for the Packers. Only time will tell which one of those lines up next to Adams.
New Orleans Saints
Taking an objective view at Michael Thomas, he has been one of the better wideouts since he came into the league. He did set the record for most catches in a season with 149, and has been a clutch player when his name is called. However, if the Saints’ truly want to give Brees another shot at a championship, he needs more weapons. With the 24th pick, the Saints will either miss out on Jefferson, or steal him from the team we will talk about next. I find it hard to imagine that with deprivation of pass catchers on the Saints that they won’t take a receiver out of this stacked class. And Jefferson may just sneak onto to Saints.
Minnesota just acquired the 22nd overall pick, along with a plethora of other picks. In exchange, they sent their top receiver Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills. The Vikings were already struggling at the third spot at receiver, now adding in a need for a second receiver makes it an almost guarantee they go WR in this draft. The Vikings can beat the previous two teams to Jefferson at 22, but could they make the mistake and wait until 25 for Jefferson? Unlikely, Jefferson balled out at the combine and I find it hard to believe, barring a trade up, that the Vikings pass up on Jefferson at 22.
Jefferson is an athletic player who can fit in at all receiver spots. At 6’3″, 192 lb’s, his speed is an elite weapon. He has shown this on deeper routes like the corners and go’s. Jefferson is also a very willing run blocker, despite not having elite block strength. His YAC (Yards After Catch) ability will transition into the NFL, creating big play ability. He uses his frame well during contested catches, demonstrating good body control. He will need this at the next level to help improve on short area catches. A great route runner and very hard to stop from getting the ball in his hands.
Jefferson struggles with creating downfield separation. Which is a concern for a deep threat player like Jefferson. He must also improve in those short areas (5-10 yards). Jefferson is great route runner, but must continue to maximize this talent at the next level to finish routes and complete the catch.
Despite rising with the rest of the LSU class, Jefferson has quickly separated himself into a dynamic route runner with great speed. The potential is there, and though he won’t be a day one starter, he may prove to be a solid number two option down the line. Jefferson did benefit from having Joe Burrow, but Burrow also benefited from his elite speed and dynamic athleticism.
Draft expectation: Low first rounder (20-32) – High second rounder (1-5)
2020 Draft Profile: Justin JeffersonTweet
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