Height- 6 foot 2
Weight- 194 lbs
40 time projection-4.51
Projected Round- 4-6
In the 2020 NFL Draft, the WR position is absolutely stacked. With guys like Juedy, Lamb, Shenault, Ruggs, Higgins and Reagor all poised to be taken day 1 or early day 2, some WR’s are taking a hit in pre-draft rankings. One of these guys is Florida WR Van Jefferson.
Jefferson is an older draft prospect, with limited athleticism. However, there is enough upside here, that Jefferson will make some team really lucky on day 3.
The senior wide receiver only had 43 receptions this season for 528 yards (12.3 average) and scored six touchdowns, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Below are the reasons Jefferson will be a successful WR at the next level.
Does he have good hands? Is he fast? Everyone has their own preference on what they seek in a WR at the next level. In my opinion, route-running should always be at the top of the list. What is the point in having a guy with great hands if he is never open? Hot take, Jefferson is the best route runner in the 2020 draft. Jefferson makes up for his non-elite traits in athleticism, by running clean/precise routes and he gets out of his break extremely well.
In game film, the thing that stuck out to me is how Jefferson uses his routes to build throughout the game. He uses a fake inside release early and will parlay it into a quick inside move later. He is playing chess throughout the game, and at the next level that is what makes WR’s successful. It isn’t always about the current play, and even if you don’t get the ball every single route plays a role in a successful day.
If you aren’t one of the top five guys in a draft class, the little things play a major factor in how the rest of the draft pans out. In the case of wide Receivers, blocking is that factor. If a guy shows aggressiveness and the will to block down field, and commit to blocking throughout the tape, he will climb draft boards with ease.
Watching the Florida Gators play as a team, on a lot of the big plays Jefferson’s blocking ability popped the guy free for a big play. A prime example of this was, in the October 5th game vs Auburn on his teammate Freddie Swains long touchdown. Without the block from Jefferson, there wouldn’t be a touchdown.
Blocking is a hard thing to judge, because there aren’t as many metrics, but the tape stands out and that gives coaches something to look forward to.
Special Teams Ability
If Van turns into a guy at the next level that can contribute greatly in the Offense, he wouldn’t see the field for special teams. For now, it’s a quality that he possesses to attract NFL teams in the mid to late rounds.
It’s rare, that a guy who is a senior for a program will put as much effort into special teams as he does on offense. However, that’s exactly what Van Jefferson did in 2019. He had 2 plays where he downed a punt inside the five yard line, including a huge one against rival Miami.
Being a quality gunner, is a team first type attitude, and NFL teams will take this into account when choosing between two guys in the later rounds of the NFL draft.