Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 192 pounds
School: LSU Tigers
Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash: 4.43 seconds
Vertical jump: 37.5 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, 6 inches
Justin Jefferson 2020 NFL Draft Profile
In what is a loaded draft class at the wide receiver position, LSU’s Justin Jefferson is near the top. Jefferson was a three-star recruit when he arrived on campus in Baton Rouge, but he has since outperformed his recruiting rank. Over the course of his three years at LSU, Jefferson totaled 165 catches for 2,412 yards and 24 touchdowns.
These numbers may not be the best you’ve ever seen, but take into account that Jefferson didn’t appear in a game until his sophomore season. Despite sitting out that first season, Jefferson was able to make an impact, especially in his final season at LSU where he hauled in eighteen touchdowns and was a key cog in the most potent passing attack in the nation.
While the wide receiver group in this year’s draft class is sensational, Jefferson has certainly made his case to be talked about as one of the best. It’s not hyperbole to say Justin Jefferson has some of, if not the best hands in the nation. It was a shock if Jefferson dropped a pass last season, he was that steady of a pass catcher. He did some major damage across the middle and could be a nice slot receiver in the NFL. He showed toughness and was never shy to take a big hit if it meant making the catch.
Jefferson also showed some good speed in certain situations, specifically when separating from a defender after the catch. With that being said, Jefferson doesn’t have world breaking speed and his route running leaves something to be desired.
- Excellent hands that can erase bad throws particularly across the middle of the field
- Scrappy blocker who isn’t afraid to get physical if the situation calls for it
- Plus vertical speed
- Good field awareness
- Doesn’t shrink in big spots
- Toughness (fights for extra yards)
- Contested catch
- Route running could use some work
- Isn’t overly elusive
- Average speed in short and intermediate routes
- Not particularly effective on deep routes
- Occasionally gets overmatched when trying to block
Pro Comparison: Marvin Jones
Projection: Early second round
Justin Jefferson is certainly an intriguing prospect. He has excellent length and is a physical player which will translate well to the next level. He should be an excellent red zone option as his mix of length and great hands allow him to win contested catch chances. As far as speed goes, Jefferson is just fast enough to get by. He isn’t overly quick or shifty in short-yardage situations, but he picks it up deeper down the field. Jefferson may be better served being a second or third option in the NFL, at least to start his career.
Jefferson’s route running isn’t the worst that the league has ever seen, but it could some work. The biggest issue in his route running is his cuts aren’t quite as sharp as they could be. If he wants to succeed as a slot receiver in the NFL he’ll need to improve his agility which will lead to those sharper cuts. He won’t be able to simply rely on his hands in the NFL.
One thing that won’t show up on stat sheets is Jefferson’s big game ability. He seemed to be at his best in the biggest spots. In the SEC Championship game against Georgia, Jefferson hauled in seven catches for 115 yards and touchdown. He followed this up with a 227-yard, four-touchdown outing in the Peach Bowl against Oklahoma, before rounding his season up with 106 yards in the National Championship against Clemson. Jefferson saved his best for the big moments and that clutch aspect won’t show up on the stat sheet, but it will absolutely be taken into account when evaluating his draft stock. Overall Justin Jefferson is absolutely one of the best receiving prospects in the draft and will likely go in the second round, but could come off the board as soon as the late first round.
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