What Should the Rams Expect out of Former Gators WR Van Jefferson?
As the most polished route-runner the Florida Gators have had in quite some time, former Gators receiver Van Jefferson was selected in the second round (57th overall) to the Los Angeles Rams, higher than most draftniks had him projected to go.
While he wasn't the perfect prospect, mostly due to his age and a foot injury that required surgery, discovered during the week of the NFL Combine, Jefferson had all the tools necessary to be a top 64 pick, even in a historic wide receiver class.
Through his career, Jefferson hauled in 175 receptions for 2,159 yards, and 16 touchdowns - 84 receptions, 1160 yards, and 12 touchdowns came during his final two seasons after transferring to Florida following his redshirt sophomore season.
After trading one of their star wide receivers, Brandon Cooks, to the Houston Texans for a second-round pick, the Rams had a clear need to upgrade the position. While both Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are fantastic in their own right, without a true third-option player on the field, Jefferson makes an excellent replacement.
During an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Rams general manager Les Snead spoke highly of the selection, also noting Jefferson was one of the players who really "stood out" to him at the Senior Bowl.
One of the reasons why the Rams felt so strongly about Jefferson, Snead says, is because of how much the receiver reminded him of his now-teammates Kupp and Woods. His combination of polished route-running and being a quarterback's best friend is likely something that drew both Snead and Rams head coach Sean McVay towards the Florida product.
With the Rams, Jefferson should be able to play multiple positions. McVay is one of the most creative play-callers in all of football, able to put his receivers in the best positions to get open, and has done a great job at developing them further beyond their draft position.
For example, Kupp, originally a third-round selection in 2017 wasn't expected to be the player he is today. Last season, Kupp was able to pot it all together coming off of a season-ending injury a year prior, accumulating 94 receptions for 1,161 yards, and 10 touchdowns on the year - one of Goff's go-to weapons and extremely quarterback friendly.
Jefferson will make his money by presenting an easy target for Goff, however, he does not need to necessarily operate solely out of the slot position to do so.
Here, Jefferson makes his money by giving the quarterback an easy target, allowing the defender to carry him upfield and breaking off on his route perfectly, something the rams should be used to seeing with Woods. Woods, like Jefferson, works across all parts of the field.
One of the misconceptions about Jefferson is his lack of speed, or ability to run deeper routs. While he was not asked to do much of it at Florida, Jefferson has shown the ability to do so and doesn't necessarily need 4.40 speed to excel at it.
What makes the Rams such a unique and perfect fit for Jefferson is their ability to allow their receivers to work off of what they do best, and then applying their offense to match afterward.
Woods, for example, ran a 4.51 40-yard dash and was known as more of a short-intermediate receiver. However, with the Rams, Woods has been able to operate at any depth, hauling in six receptions of 20 yards or more last year, according to Pro Football Focus.
Jefferson should be able to find similar success in time with the Rams and offensive genius Sean McVay. He makes for an excellent and - in time -, Rams fans will be overjoyed with the production he will surely provide.