Justin Jefferson was one of the most productive wideouts in the country during his third season at LSU. He led the country in receptions (111) in 2019 while also ranking third in receiving yards (1,540) and receiving touchdowns (18). Despite these gaudy numbers, Jefferson wasn’t even the top option on his team.
The Tigers benefitted from having the best quarterback in the country in Joe Burrow and the top receiver in Ja’Marr Chase, who led the country in receiving yards (1,780) and receiving touchdowns (20) last season.
Some are skeptical about how Jefferson would fare on a less talented team where he is the top option. He’s also mostly considered to be a slot receiver, and those types typically aren’t drafted with first-round picks. Can he prove his doubters wrong?
Jefferson excels at hauling in 50-50 balls. Regardless of where the ball is thrown, he’s typically able to come down with it while being contested by the opposing team. His body control sets him apart from other players in his draft class. But he also has some areas he could improve in.
Defensive backs are better at the pro level, and that means Jefferson has to get better at creating separation. He also has to be prepared to deal with more physicality. His teammate Chase garnered the attention of the more skilled cornerbacks in college. How will Jefferson perform on the big stage?
Here’s what NFL scouts had to say about Jefferson:
Justin Jefferson projects as an impact starter at the NFL level. Jefferson brings size, quickness, route running polish, reliable hands to the slot — but don’t mistake him for *just* a slot receiver. Jefferson has the physicality and footwork to win on the boundary against press coverage as well, he’ll be a sufficient weapon for any starting quarterback. — The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs
He’s slippery in space and able to stab and save throws with quick hands and fluid body adjustments. Teams looking for an inside/outside possession receiver with the size and savvy to make chain-moving catches could push Jefferson up the board. — NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein
All I see from him is big-time football plays, consistency, great route running. I mean, to me, he’s like a faster version of Michael Thomas. — NBC Sports’ Chris Simms
Mock Draft Results
Fantasy impact: Rookie year
Jefferson is expected to be a Week 1 starter from the get go. Since he’s projected to be drafted later in the first round, he’ll likely go to a team with a sturdy quarterback situation and solid receiving corps. He won’t be a WR1, but he seems a good bet to be at least a second option in most situations. If he somehow ends up being the third best wideout on a team, he could play in the slot position where he’s had so much success.
Fantasy impact: Career
Jefferson is somewhere between the fourth and sixth best wideout prospect in the draft, but isn’t seen as a player with star potential. Chances are he won’t ever be a top five pass catcher in the NFL, but he could become a consistent top 10 or top 15 finisher in time when it comes to fantasy impact. He should stack up well against any other pass catcher in the 2020 draft class.