For the past two seasons, I have said a realistic trade target to solve the New England Patriots' receiver woes was Marvin Jones. Now, with Justin Jefferson entering the draft, the Patriots can just draft a guy just like him and potentially get similar production.
Many people are comparing Jefferson to Jones and it makes a lot of sense from a size, athleticism, and quickness aspect. However, Jefferson appears to be more refined when it comes to route-running and obtaining separation.
The 6-foot-3 LSU receiver seems to make a lot of sense to New England fans. He definitely fits the mold of the tall, playmaking, sticky hands-type receiver the team has been attempting to stockpile lately.
Let's take a deeper dive into Jefferson's skill set:
-Jefferson has hands like glue. He is a natural catcher, who can win above the rim as well. His catch radius is very wide. He high points the ball well. His hands are probably his most impressive trait.
Speed and athleticism
-His speed is not overwhelming. In fact, when compared to some of the roadrunners in this class, his speed is unimpressive. Just off projections, he is expected to run in the 4.6 area.
-He is a solid athlete but not the most dynamic. He can struggle with shifts in direction and short area agility. His leaping and yards after catch ability headline his solid athletic traits. In other words, his athleticism shines more in down the field situations and can struggle in the short area.
-The Patriots drafting Jefferson would make him the fifth receiver on the roster over 6-foot-2. He would also be the lightest of the five at 193 pounds. Those other four being Mohamed Sanu and Jakobi Meyers (6-foot-2), Quincy Adeboyejo (6-foot-3), and N'Keal Harry (6-foot-4).
Route-running and separation
-Jefferson is a really strong route-runner. He is very refined in this area and has a strong grasp of receiver technique. His route tree is very diverse.
-He can set up defenders in order to beat man coverage. He does a nice job of using his eyes, head, and shoulders to tell lies and fool his man.
-His burst is solid and it allows for him to get some separation from defenders.
-He runs very strong over and option routes and got lots of yards after the catch on them. Whoever drafts him should include some over and option routes into their gameplan.
Smarts and awareness
-He is a smart route-runner and knows the fundamentals of football. His experience at receiver is evident.
-He knows what makes defenders tick and what their next move will be. This goes back to the lies he tells with his body in the route-running segment.
-His football instincts are very well developed.
-Jefferson is tough and has an aggressive nature when the ball is in the air. He absorbs contact well and fights for extra yards.
-He could stand to get a little more physical and handsy through his routes and tight coverage. This would allow for even more opportunities at separation.
-Jefferson is a very strong blocker. LSU displayed a lot of confidence in him in this area. They lined him up against outside linebackers and he had no problem blocking the guys who were twice his size.
-Blocking technique is strong. He could be one of the best blocking receivers in the draft.
-Jefferson followed up a strong sophomore season with a monster junior year. Take a look:
Jefferson averaged 14.6 yards per catch, which is pretty solid efficiency. Here is how his overall stats stacked up with the rest of college football:
Jefferson can be an immediate contributor out of the slot. He can provide much of what Josh Gordon did for the team. The Patriots could run a nice levels concept with Julian Edelman, Sanu, and him. He would be a nice addition to the team, but realistically anyone who can consistently get separation is.