Odell Beckham-type route-running ability; that is the first thing you notice when you see #12 on the Florida Gators. Van Jefferson has near elite route-running ability coming out of college, and that was on display during the 2020 Senior Bowl. Labeled as a "riser", Jefferson did what he needed to do during this past week's practice to begin to improve his draft stock. While he certainly has his limitations, Jefferson is worth keeping an eye on.
College Career Stats (2016-2019)
Jefferson started his collegiate career at Ole Miss, and played two seasons with them before transferring to Florida for the 2018 season. In four total years as a college wide out, Jefferson hauled in 175 catches for 2,159 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns.
Tail of the Tape
The best skill that Jefferson has is his route-running. He cannot be touched in a phone booth, and that allows him to shake from defenders. He understands how to set a defender up, and break off his stem, turn around and catch the ball. He also runs flat routes, rarely floating up field towards defenders. During one of the best games of his college career against LSU in 2019, Jefferson ran a smash route for a TD. The route was so crisp and he stayed flat along the end zone that there was no way a defender could stick with him.
Jefferson has the ability to snatch the ball out of the air with his hands, and showed it on film. While at times he tries to body catch balls on slant routes, he still utilizes his hands enough.
He is going to be an athelete in the NFL, so clearly he is a superior athlete to most. However, in the context of the NFL athlete, he is average. He does not have elite, top-end speed, and is more of a possession receiver. He is not going to beat defenders deep, but in a 7-15 yard range he can make some noise.
From what I have noticed in film, there is not much RAC in his game. This could be due to his slighter frame. The Eagles don't have much RAC talent on the roster, and they haven't built their offense around it. Guys like Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery will mostly catch the ball and gain a yard or two. Jefferson can fit into a role like Alshon's, but with a bit more speed and better route-running.
While he stands at a tall 6'2, Van weighs under 200lbs. Given that he is not a burner, Jefferson will need to bulk up, especially if he wants to go over the middle in the NFL.
While he had one of the better Senior Bowl weeks of 2020, many expect Jefferson to go off the board late day two, or early day three. This could change, as he is a riser, and if he runs a sub 4.5 40 time, you can expect him to be a 2nd round pick. Howie Roseman and his scouts should spend some extra time looking at this kid's tape to determine if he will be a receiver that will help the Birds in 2020 and beyond.
This concludes our second draft vision profile. You can check out previous players we have profiled below: