2020 NFL Draft Profile: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Justin Jefferson

Wide receiver, LSU Tigers
6-1, 202
40 time: 4.43

OVERVIEW

LSU coach Ed Orgeron
Oct 12, 2019; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron along with wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) and teammates celebrate following a win against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jefferson is an extremely savvy, reliable target, and it showed in his massive production — 111 catches, 1,540 yards, 18 touchdowns in 2019. He was rated as the 308th-best wide receiver prospect in the nation in the 247Sports Composite rankings coming out of Destrehan (La.) High School.

Jefferson tore up the NFL Scouting Combine, showing surprising speed (4.43-second 40-yard dash) and exquisite routes and hands in positional drills.



ANALYSIS

Jefferson can work in the slot or outside and shows craftiness as a route-runner, with a variety of releases and stems to set up defenders and defeat their leverage. He’s a smooth athlete with excellent body control, which stands out on both his routes and contested-catch opportunities. He shields well with his body and can snare passes away from his frame even with defenders hanging on him. Quality acceleration and quickness make Jefferson dangerous after the catch, too, as he can make guys miss and break through arm tackles.

For all his production, Jefferson isn’t overly explosive, which might lead to him landing outside the first round. A surprising amount of his big plays required tough catches amid tight coverage, with the four-TD spree against Oklahoma in the CFP semifinal a great example. That he made those plays is terrific, but more separation will be helpful in the NFL. Some may view Jefferson as primarily a slot threat, although his surprisingly fast 40 time might ease those concerns.

PRO COMPARISON

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints — Jefferson shares a lot of similarities with the version of Thomas that came out of Ohio State in 2016: Good size and smooth athleticism with some route-running savvy and ability to catch outside the frame, but lacking top-end speed. Thomas obviously thrived quickly in the NFL, showing his speed was sufficient, but he also landed in a great spot and made major strides each season. That could be a best-case scenario for Jefferson.



Projection: Second round

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