The best way to get into more draft conversations is by blazing through the 40-yard dash. Justin Jefferson aced that test.
The LSU product tied for eighth-best among receivers in the 40 after running it in 4.43 seconds. Sure, it wasn’t quite the Grease lightning that Southern Mississippi’s Quez Watkins posted (4.35) or the blur that is Henry Ruggs III (4.27).
But Jefferson’s time certainly had NFL front office executives talking and possibly moving up draft boards. He already had the stats — 111 receptions for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2019 — but now he has the measurables.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson had a front-row seat for all the receiver performances on Thursday night and looked like a kid in a candy store — scratch that, more like a prisoner about to make bail.
His offense could be getting their freedom in the form of a quick-footed, big-bodied, down-the-field threat. Jefferson could be a dynamic player in Pederson’s offense, at 6-foot-3 and 192 pounds.
Plus, he’s a guy who thrived in the slot and doesn’t mind playing there. Perhaps the perfect (sure-handed) replacement for Nelson Agholor. Jefferson only dropped three passes all year.
“I feel like that’s the moneymakers right there,” Jefferson told NJ Advance Media at the NFL Scouting Combine. “That’s the time when you get in open space and you’re able to make those big plays and show that you’re a good receiver with the ball in your hands.”
Jefferson Plays with Needed Chip on Shoulder
The talk at the NFL Scouting Combine has been centered around Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, plus Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. Those three guys are considered, by most scouts and analysts, to be the best three wideouts in the draft.
Don’t count out Justin Jefferson. He used to beating the odds.
Jefferson’s brother, Jordan, played quarterback at LSU with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. He used to teach Justin route trees in the backyard on breaks from school, per ESPN. His other brother, Rickey, starred at LSU as a defensive back. He’s got the pedigree.
Justin also has the hardware. Remember, LSU won the college national championship last year. Not Alabama. Not Oklahoma. The Bayou Tigers beat Clemson 42-25 in a game where Justin hauled in nine balls for 106 yards.
If that’s not motivation enough for Jefferson, he plays with a certifiable chip on his shoulder. Why? He was omitted from the All-SEC squad. He was not a Biletnikoff Award finalist. And he outplayed both Jeudy and Lamb in head-to-head matchups. He’s a beast.
Still not convinced? Take this nugget from a Jan. 11 profile on him from ESPN:
At an LSU football camp, then-interim head coach Ed Orgeron looked on as he saw the lanky Jefferson flash his immense talent. Orgeron can still remember him running a “sluggo” route — a slant-and-go — and how his jaw hit the floor.
“When he came to camp … Ooh,” Orgeron said, grunting excitedly.
The Eagles hold the No. 21 pick in the first round. Jefferson will likely be sitting there, maybe they should catch him before he slants and goes.
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