Van Jefferson - Florida Wide Receiver
Florida’s Van Jefferson isn’t likely at the top of your wide receiver rankings and may not even be in your top 15, but after a productive senior season and his solid performance at the Senior Bowl his draft stock is pointing up as he heads to the NFL Combine. The son of 13-year NFL veteran and Jets current wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, it's obvious his father taught him the technical polish required to play wide receiver. This should translate to him getting on the field early in his NFL career.
Jefferson was a four-star recruit in the class of 2015, from Brentwood, Tennessee and had a composite ranking of 0.9517 per 247 Sports. He was the 11th-ranked wide receiver in the class and ranked 109th overall. Jefferson received offers from several big programs including Michigan, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Ohio State. In 2015, he surprisingly decommitted from Georgia and signed on with Ole Miss as a freshman.
Jefferson played two years for Ole Miss, and in December of 2017 transferred to Florida where he played his junior and senior seasons. His production was relatively consistent throughout his career and it’s worth noting he dealt with average quarterback play until his senior season. He received a good education playing against SEC corners and defensive backs, which should prepare him for the next level.
The Film Room
The below video scouting report clearly showcases Jefferson’s excellent route-running skills in the slot and on the outside. Reading leverage like a seasoned pro, he knows how to set up defenders and create separation despite lacking elite speed or burst. He effectively mixes up looks and moves throughout his route stems to keep opponents honest. He understands techniques and how to use those to his advantage. Once he has the ball, he has the ability to pick up chunk yardage and shows good competitive toughness on catches over the middle. As you will see, Jefferson has sticky hands and excels at slant and short-area routes, giving up his body to make tough catches.
Although he has good size at 6’2” and 197, Jefferson’s primary limitation is his athleticism. He lacks the physicality to compete against bigger or longer defensive backs in tight coverage. He won’t outrun defenders or lower the shoulder through them, but he exhibits good short-area quickness to make defenders miss in space and has enough strength to break through arm tackles. If he can build his body mass and play strength he will increase his chances of staying on the field.
Jefferson will turn 24 before his rookie season and most likely be an early-to mid-round pick in the draft. He should test well at the Combine and enter the NFL with one of the highest floors of any receiver in this class and will be ready to contribute immediately. His best fit would be going to a team with an established #1 receiver where he could thrive being the second or third receiving option.
Landing spot will affect his final value, but right now he’s a great value in the late 2nd and 3rd rounds of your upcoming rookie drafts. Could he play for his father and catch passes from Sam Darnold this season? Not sure, but it would be kinda cool to see that happen.
Enjoy the scouting film.