Would Van Jefferson be a good selection for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2020 NFL Draft? Let’s dive into his scouting report.
If free agency told us anything, the Indianapolis Colts will be active in the 2020 NFL Draft searching for more help at wide receiver. It wouldn’t be shocking to see general manager Chris Ballard opt to select multiple receivers.
The one question that remains is what type of receiver Ballard wants to add. It’ll be interesting if he opts to select a foil of T.Y. Hilton, or if finding more speed alongside Hilton and Parris Campbell will be the move.
One thing is certain. It’s important to create separation in the NFL. Whether it be with size, speed, or lateral agility, separating is more translatable to success than anything else. Let’s look at a prospect who fits the bill there for the Colts: Florida’s Van Jefferson. Let’s dive in to his scouting report.
Name: Van Jefferson
Height: 6’1 1/2
Weight: 200 pounds
2019 Stats: 49 catches, 657 yards, 6 touchdowns
Games Watched: Florida State (2019), Miami (2019), Missouri (2019), LSU (2019), Virginia (2019), Auburn (2019)
Route Running: Route running is by far Jefferson’s best trait. He can create separation with ease at the short and intermediate levels with crisp cuts and a great understanding of how to gain leverage early on in routes and manipulate defenders. Sells outside stem very well and uses his hands effectively to cross the face of defenders on in-breaking routes. He works well on out breaking routes as well and on hitches and comebacks, sinking his hips well and not wasting extra steps. Jefferson excels on double moves, especially a stick-nod concept from the slot, where he can manipulate defenders with his eyes, shoulders, and hips, and his sharp cutting ability gives him the ability to separate.
Jefferson’s Senior Bowl reps show a lot of his prowess as a route runner. He will set up future moves by giving defenders a tendency, and will change things up. His mastery of this is extremely advanced.
Release: His release is very nuanced. Jefferson is very patient at the line of scrimmage and doesn’t tip his hand early on when he can do so. He gets into his stem quickly with violent jab steps, and often sells an outside stem and works back inside. Jefferson’s ability to use his hands effectively works well against press coverage and more physical corners in general.
Hands: Jefferson has minimal drops on tape, and is a natural hands-catcher who routinely catches away from his frame and tucks the ball away. He doesn’t have a large catch radius, but can routinely adjust to the football and secure it. Jefferson is also comfortable through contact.
Ball Skills: His comfort through contact has already been addressed above, and it’s his best trait when discussion ball skills. Jefferson tracks the ball well over his shoulder, but is rarely put into situations like that down the field. He adjusts to the football when he needs to, and has good body control to secure the ball on back shoulder throws.
YAC/RAC Ability: Jefferson can make an initial defender miss after the catch because of his spatial awareness, and can hit a second gear with good burst when working linearly. After that, there isn’t much to write home about. He lacks the quick twitch, lateral agility, and speed to be a major threat in the open field.
Speed: Jefferson isn’t a true burner in any sense. It isn’t his game, but he still finds ways to threaten vertically as a route runner.
Versatility: Jefferson should be comfortable wherever teams want to align him in the NFL. Because of his ability to beat press coverage, he shouldn’t have trouble finding success on the perimeter. His ability to take advantage of off coverage, create separation, and be a chain-mover makes him a great candidate for the slot as well.
Blocking: Jefferson is a willing and able blocker who has the strength to stay engaged with defenders long enough to help create big plays. His effort in this area shouldn’t bring about questions.
Play Strength: His ability to work through contact at the catch point and handling press coverage at the line of scrimmage make this area of his game sufficient.
Does Jefferson fit with the Colts?
It’s clear that separation matters in an offense, especially the one run by Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich. Reich employs several concepts in the short and intermediate areas of the field, and it’s the area where Jefferson can win against defenders. He compares a lot to Davante Adams and Keenan Allen, especially in his route running ability and lack of afterburners.
If the Colts opt to find more separators in the passing game, Jefferson would be a great fit in Indy. He can play on the perimeter or in the slot and be effective in either spot. It’s possible that his lack of quick twitch and no testing numbers could potentially push him into day three conversation, and he’d be a great value pick in the fourth round, and even could be considered in round three. He’s a player with a high floor who can find success as a contributor in the NFL.