2020 NFL Draft: Does Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy Make Sense for the Jaguars?
As the 2020 offseason progresses, JaguarReport is going to be taking extended looks of some NFL draft prospects who could theoretically make sense for the Jacksonville Jaguars at some point in April.
In this version, we examine Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, one of the most dominant wide receivers at the collegiate level in recent memory. Whether it was serving as a safety blanket or as a deep threat for the Crimson Tide offense, Jeudy did it all. But does he make sense for the Jaguars?
One of the top wide receiver recruits when leaving high school, Jeudy established himself quickly as a major focal point of the Alabama offense. As a true freshman, the 6-foot-1, 193-pound Jeudy caught 14 receptions for 264 yards and two touchdowns, chipping in for an Alabama squad that won the National Championship.
It was when Jeudy was a sophomore that he exploded onto the scene and caught the attention of coaches, executives, and analysts throughout the entire country. In 2018, Jeudy caught 68 receptions for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns, leading to him being named a consensus first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC player. He was also awarded the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best wide receiver.
As a junior in 2019, Jeudy played a different role for the Crimson Tide offense, transitioning from a deep threat into a volume wide receiver who would be asked to win on short-yarage situations. A first-team All-SEC player in his final year of college, Jeudy caught 77 receptions for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns, giving him 24 touchdowns in the last two seasons.
What Jerry Jeudy does well
One of the best indications of a wide receiver being able to translate well to the NFL is their ability to create separation. When it comes to Jeudy, there are zero questions in this regard, and his ability to get open should make anyone optimistic about his NFL projection.
Where Jeudy's elite route running begins is at the line of scrimmage. Whether he is facing press or off coverage, Jeudy does a great job of mixing up his attack at the line and adjusting to how defenses are playing him. He shows zero wasted movement or false steps on his releases, and he can either throttle down vs. off coverage or explode past press coverage. He is agile and makes it hard for cornerbacks to get hands on him throughout his route, especially at the line of scrimmage.
When he gets past the line of scrimmage, Jeudy continues his impressive displays of route running and the ability to separate. He is able to eat up ground quickly and then stop on a dime, winning at the top of the route and finding space to drop into. He is able to smoothly sink his hips and explode in and out of his breaks, and he has great timing for his transitions, often finding the perfect time to break away from a cornerback.
The routes are crisp, fluid, and full-speed. Whether he is running a curl route or a nine route, he makes it look the same from snap to snap and keeps you guessing. At the next level, there are likely not many routes Jeudy can't run.
Thanks to his athleticism (4.45 40-yard dash) and ability to make explosive plays at any level of the field, Jeudy is a capable deep threat who can threaten defenses vertically and track the ball downfield. When utilized on short and intermediate routes, Jeudy is able to turn receptions into even more yards thanks to dangerous running ability in open space, which includes a vicious dead leg move.
Jeudy will get open at the next level, but thanks to his quickness, instincts in space, and elusiveness, he will be able to maximize his usage and ability to make plays. Along with winning before and after the catch, Jeudy has experience lining up at every wide receiver spot and has been used in a number of roles in the Alabama offense.
What Jerry Jeudy needs to improve at
There aren't too many holes in Jeudy's game. He is an elite route runner, can win at all three levels of the field, and is athletic enough to scare defenses after the catch. With that said, there are still a few areas of his game that he will need to elevate to ensure his success at the next level.
Jeudy often shows an ability to reach outside or below his frame and make a difficult catch, but he just as often struggles to make routine catches that he otherwise has no business not hanging onto. Whether it is because of a lapse in concentration at times, him trying to make a play before he has the ball secured, or just a plain bout of inconsistency, Jeudy will need to become more steady as a hands-catcher at the next level.
Outside of occasional drops, Jeudy's biggest area of improvement will need to come with his ability to play against physical coverage. He is an intense player who doesn't look like he backs down from defenders on blocking plays, but defenders can disrupt him at the catch point and out-physical him for the ball or for a deflection, especially downfield. He doesn't have a big frame, making him susceptible to losing to bigger cornerbacks.
Because of this, Jeudy will unlikely be much of a jump ball option, and his effectiveness in the red-zone will be limited to beating cornerbacks in short spaces for seperation. He could also have some issues winning possession catches over the middle of the field unless he adds strength.
Jay Gruden offenses ask a lot out of the wide receivers in it. From the timing of the routes to the variety of the route tree, the Jaguars' wide receivers will need to be able to gain seperation on their own at every level of the field.
This makes the Jaguars a solid fit for a prospect like Jeudy, even if he doesn't have the physical nature they may covet. He could be utilized throughout the entire formation in Gruden's offense, serving as a dangerous underneath target in the slot or an outside wide receiver who is tasked with winning at each level of the field.
Jeudy has the speed to be a deep threat and the route running acumen to serve as a steady compliment across from DJ Chark. His hands will need to become more consistent to reach his full potential, but he is a sensible fit for the Jaguars' need at wide receiver and would likely be their best technician from day one if they selected him with the No. 9 overall pick.