Van Jefferson is headed west.
The Los Angeles Rams selected Jefferson with their 2nd round pick, 57th overall, making him the second Florida prospect to be taken in this year’s NFL Draft after CJ Henderson went 9th overall to Jacksonville last night. He becomes the 351st Gator draftee all time, and the 75th since the 2007 Draft.
Jefferson, who transferred to Florida from Mississippi following the Rebels’ bowl ban, instantly hit the ground running as a Gator. He quickly became one of Feleipe Franks’ most trusted targets in 2018, catching 35 passes for 503 yards and six touchdowns as a junior. He stepped up even more as a senior in 2019, hauling in 49 passes for 657 yards and six more scores.
One of Jefferson’s biggest strengths is his route running. Put simply, he’s incredible at the art of getting himself open. He understands all ten major routes on the route tree exceptionally well, and combines his high football IQ with tremendous footwork and agility. He’s naturally explosive and hits his top speed immediately, which makes him extremely difficult to cover out of his break. And while he’s not the fastest member of this loaded wide receiver class, he’s more than fast enough to be a serious problem. (Just ask LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton about that.)
He’s also got some of the strongest hands in this year’s draft class. If he puts both hands on the football, he’s usually going to make the catch no matter how hard the defender tries to punch it away. Pro Football Focus says Jefferson dropped just thirteen passes in his entire four year collegiate career. And he uses these hands as weapons when he goes into blocking mode, particularly deep downfield.
On top of that, coaches and teammates rave about Jefferson’s attitude and work ethic. He loves the game, he loves to be coached, and he just loves to work. (Part of that is because he’s the son of a coach.) In today’s world of whiners and head cases, that’s absolutely critical.
The downside with Jefferson is that he’s a little on the small side, relatively speaking. He stands 6’1, 200 lbs. with a 77 and 1/8 inch wingspan. He also suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot back in February, which definitely didn’t help matters.
But overall, Jefferson is a phenomenal talent, a very safe pick with a high floor who’s likely going to make the Rams very happy. He’ll enter the league as a dependable short/intermediate possession receiver on day one, and with time could grow into more. At worst, he’ll be able to make a living as a solid WR3 or WR4. And he’s got the motor, the intelligence and the skill set to develop into a great NFL wideout for years to come.
So, congratulations to the LA Rams. You got a hard working and extremely devoted pass catcher. And as for you, Van Jefferson, it was a blast watching you these past two years. Best of luck to you on Sundays.