Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Get to Know 'Em: Alshon Jeffery

It’s pretty clear that the Vikings are either going to pick Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne or trade down in the first round. So let’s take the draft analysis a step further and preview players the Vikings might take with their second pick. In case you’re wondering, I’m using my own instincts and the various mock drafts to select players to preview. So for all I know, these guys will all be gone in the first round, or will still be available when the Vikings draft in the third round. If it's the latter, let's all pretend this was a third round preview, ok? Thanks.

Previous Entries in the Get to Know ‘Em Series: Harrison Smith, Stephen Hill

There’s something very familiar about Alshon Jeffery. He’s a big guy, standing 6’3 and weighing in at 213 pounds, and he has hands like tennis rackets. In a uniform, he looks a lot like Mike Williams, a former receiver for USC (the other USC) and a player that the Vikings passed on to draft Troy Williamson (which was good?). His skill set looks a lot like Williams’ did as well. Unlike Williams, though, Jeffery has improved himself since he finished playing college football, dropping 15 pounds from his listed weight and lowering his forty time to between 4.4 and 4.5 seconds (Williams weighed 231 lbs at the Combine and ran a 4.59 forty).

Unlike the last two wide receivers the Vikings’ drafted from South Carolina, Jeffery was a dominant player in college. Well, at least he was a dominant player until his senior year when the South Carolina quarterback situation fell apart, wrecking his stats and the entire Gamecock offense. When there was someone to get the ball in his general area, Jeffery was able to out jump, out reach and out physical the coverage and he almost always brought the ball in. Of course, his numerous circus catches aren't too surprising considering how big his hands are (10 ¼ inches).

What Jeffery wasn’t able to do, however, was out run his coverage. He lacked a burst in college, and his top speed wasn’t particularly impressive. To compensate, he used his size and leaping ability, but his route running wasn’t crisp enough to create much space. While he was generally able to exploit what space he did find, whether he’ll be able to create even that much separation when he faces stronger and more athletic coverage is an open question, especially considering he struggled against press coverage.

Cutting the weight might be enough to give Jeffery the burst and speed necessary to be successful in the NFL. Williams didn’t drop weight coming into the draft. If anything, Williams had put on weight. But is it enough to separate Jeffery from Williams? The reliance on physicality and general athleticism seems similar, as does the average speed. Jeffery might avoid the mediocre career of Williams, but even if he does, it’s unlikely he’ll be much more than a possession receiver and a useful red zone target.

4 comments:

  1. TBird:

    I didn't get to watch Jeffrey play in college, but the videos posted here show a many amongst boys. It is telling that on some of his catches, when he's able to break free, he often gets caught from behind by defenders. Randy Moss he is not.

    On the other hand, Sidney Rice wasn't considered a great speed guy when he came out of South Carolina and he could run by guys a little. But he certainly looked a lot more lithe than Jeffrey.

    I worry Jeffrey would turn out to be the player you described above – a possession receiver and red zone target. But he'd be a defensible pick in the second round and great value in the third (although I don't think he slips that far).

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  2. I like that you recall current NFL players who had similar attributes and/or buzz or hype when they were coming out of college. As someone who knows very little about college ball, it helps give me a better idea of who these players are and what they could become in the pros.

    I've read the Hill article but now I will go back and check out the Smith article as well.

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  3. The thing with Rice is that he was something of an unknown commodity--more like Hill than Jeffery b/c South Carolina didn't really use him.

    Jeffery, well, I'm not the only one making the Mike Williams comp. I also remember how much I wanted the Vikings to draft Williams. There's enough of a difference that Jeffery can be better than Williams(the weight loss, the better 40 time, the fact that Jeffery didn't sit out a year due to eligibility issues created by guessing the wrong outcome on Maurice Clarett's challenge to the draft's age limit) but it seems like he's unlikely to be a star.

    @Peters Phone--I'll try and use more comps in the future. The problem is that forcing them doesn't help too much. The Williams comp just jumped out at me.

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  4. I've watched alot of Alshon Jeffrey and he's awesome. He reminds me alot of Brandon Marshall without the personality or mental issues. He has elite ball skills. How much separation does a receiver need if he almost always comes up with the ball. He caught mid field one handed fades with Dre Kirkpatrick draped all over him. He played great against corners that most people think are better than him. He brings a confidence and swagger to his team. He may be the steal of this draft.

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