On January 15th, Justin Jefferson officially declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. How does he fit with the Philadelphia Eagles? Let’s take a look.
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Justin Jefferson Fun Facts
- A key cog to the LSU Tigers winning their 4th national championship in school history
- Was named to the 2019 Second-Team All-SEC from the AP
- Doubled his production across the board between his sophomore and junior seasons
- Jefferson’s 2019 yardage ranks 2nd in LSU single season history behind teammate Ja’Marr Chase
- Jefferson’s 111 catches is a single-season LSU record
- Playing at LSU is a family tradition, he’s the 3rd Jefferson to play at LSU
Justin Jefferson’s College Performance Summary
Before we look ahead to the Philadelphia Eagles, let’s go back to his days at Destrehan High School in Destrehan, Louisiana. The rise of Justin Jefferson did not come automatically. Unlike many of the elite prospects that come to LSU, Justin Jefferson was a two-star recruit out of high school. As a senior, Jefferson finished with 44 catches, 956 yards and 9 touchdowns. Justin Jefferson might be the definition of overcoming the odds in the sports recruiting world.
Justin Jefferson was the team’s leading receiver in 2018. He finished his sophomore season with 54 receptions, 875 yards and 6 touchdowns. After Steve Ensminger and Joe Brady revamped the LSU offense and moved Jefferson to the slot, Justin simply never looked back, becoming one of the best wide receivers on the country in 2019. He finished his junior year with 111 catches (tied for 1st in the country) for 1,540 yards (3rd) and 18 touchdowns (2nd).
This is a big time prospect that rises during big moments. Quite simply, he outshined Lamb and Higgins in back to back bowl games. Justin Jefferson put a stamp on his draft stock with a four-touchdown performance in the Peach Bowl vs Oklahoma. After a slow start in the championship game, Jefferson went off for nine receptions and 106 receiving yards. Despite being a 2-star prospect just a few years ago, he is now one of the top prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Projected Draft Range
The talent at the wide receiver position in the 2020 NFL Draft is beyond impressive. To me, there is no doubt that Justin Jefferson is a first round draft pick. The question is: where will he land in the first round? In most mocks I’ve seen, Justin Jefferson is the next wide receiver to go following Jeudy, Lamp, Ruggs and Higgins.
- 33rd – The Athletic (January 14th)
- 24th – NFL.com (January 21st)
- 30th – CBS Sports – (January 22nd)
- 26 – Sporting News (January 22nd)
- Not listed (first round) – Sports Illustrated (January 21st)
What does Justin Jefferson bring to the Philadelphia Eagles?
At 6’3 and 192 pounds, Justin Jefferson possesses excellent leaping ability. While he doesn’t have the speed of Henry Ruggs III, but Jefferson has very good hands and body control. Jefferson thrives with coming away with contested balls and shows great ability to track down deep balls. Jefferson is a smooth route runner and despite his outstanding college numbers, he’s one of the most underrated wide receiver prospects in his class.
The Philadelphia Eagles love versatility and Jefferson is one of the most versatile at his position. He’s a reliable receiver that can lined up on the outside or in the slot. Jefferson also plays with an edge that Doug Pederson will surely make note of. In addition, Jefferson has shown the ability and willingness to take on linebackers and seal a key block in the running game. While it might not show on day one, Jefferson has all the tools to eventually become a #1 NFL wide receiver.
Why Justin Jefferson would be a perfect fit for the Eagles
It’s no secret that the Philadelphia Eagles must add a big play threat to their offense in 2020. Between Desean Jackson’s age and Alshon Jeffery’s days in Eagle green seemingly numbered, it is a priority for the Birds to get younger and faster at the WR position. Justin Jefferson might not being a dynamic burner, but that should not detract Eagles fans. This is a premiere talent.
Jefferson is an efficient route runner that Carson Wentz craves. After dealing with countless drops and missed opportunities in 2019, Jefferson would bring a wide receiver with great hands and one not afraid of the lime light (cough looking at you Nelson Agholor cough). Similar to Julian Edelman, Jefferson has the ability to move all over the field and make every catch that comes his way.
What are some areas Justin Jefferson needs to work on?
Elite speed. Howie Roseman stated it a few weeks ago: The Eagles need to get younger and faster. The Eagles need playmakers and Justin Jefferson is not the dynamic or explosive receiver that can stretch a defense. If you’re a Justin Jefferson fan, then you need to watch the NFL Combine this year. If Justin Jefferson runs a sub 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, he could see a meteoric rise in the first round. Strong NFL Combine numbers could vault Jefferson ahead of Ruggs, Higgins or Shenault.
Jefferson will need coaching. This is not a knock on Justin Jefferson, who is a workout warrior. Justin Jefferson is one of those “elite at none but good to great everywhere else” types of prospects. Jefferson will need time to develop into a WR1 in this offense. Jefferson is a great route runner, but he struggles getting separation at the line of scrimmage.
How much do you trust the Eagles coaching staff to do their job? It’s a major question mark as the Eagles have struggled at drafting and developing talent at the wide receiver position. Jefferson could also gain some additional strength and weight once he hits the NFL.
Pro Comparison: Davante Adams (GB), Jarvis Landry (CLE), Marvin Jones (DET)
Expectations for 2020
Similar to his college career, I expect Justin Jefferson to have a slow start in the NFL. Jefferson is going to have to grind to become a sure-fire #1 wide receiver in the NFL, but the talent is there. Justin Jefferson will most likely be a #2 or #3 wide receiver on the depth chart on the first day he puts on that NFL jersey. As mentioned earlier, you do not want to count Justin Jefferson out. This former 2-star recruit is a workout warrior with a giant chip on his shoulder. I’m a believer in Justin Jefferson.