The Los Angeles Rams selected Van Jefferson, Wide Receiver, out of the University of Florida. He was the 25th pick in the second round and was the twelfth wide receiver drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Van Jefferson is 6’2” and 200 pounds. He played two years at Ole Miss before transferring and playing two more years at Florida. Jefferson will be 24 years old at the beginning of the 2020 NFL season. Johnson is the son of former NFL wide receiver and current New York Jets wide receiver coach Shawn Jefferson. In his first two seasons at Ole Miss, he competed for targets with AJ Brown, DaMarkus Lodge, DK Metcalf, and Dawson Knox. Jefferson transferred to Florida after Ole Miss was punished with NCAA sanctions. NFL doctors at the NFL Combine discovered Van Jefferson had a Jones fracture in his right foot. At the time, Adam Schefter reported that it would be a six to eight week recovery time after the surgery.
Van Jefferson technically never met the 20% dominator rating threshold for breakout age in his four seasons in college. He was 0.02% away from “breaking out” as a junior in his first season with the Gators. During his junior season, Jefferson had 35 receptions, for 503 receiving yards, and six scrimmage touchdowns for a receiving dominator rating (average percentage of their team’s receiving yards and receiving touchdowns) of 19.8% (16th percentile). Jefferson underwhelming age-adjusted production. He averaged 551.5 scrimmage yards (39th percentile) and 4.0 scrimmage touchdowns (34th percentile) per season for an average scrimmage dominator rating (average percentage of their team’s scrimmage yards and scrimmage touchdowns) per season of 8.9% (32nd percentile). Jefferson was uninspiring from an efficiency point of view and averaged 0.64 scrimmage yards per team play (42nd percentile). Jefferson occasionally contributed on special teams. He had 7 returns, for 28 return yards, and zero return touchdowns.
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Van Jefferson didn’t participate in the NFL Combine due to his Jones fracture. Film scouts praise Jefferson’s route-running ability which usually translates to not very athletic. However, Jefferson does possess a lot of technical skills at the position and most likely will be a slot receiver in the NFL.
NFL Landing Spot
Los Angeles Rams: They looked like a shell of themselves in 2019. The much vaunted and destructive offense from 2018 that carried them to the Super Bowl took a major step back in production from their quarterback, offensive line, and running back. Despite that regression, wide receivers thrived. Cooper Kupp was the most productive receiver from the slot in the NFL, accounting for 22% of the targets, and finished as the WR4. Robert Woods accounted for 21% of the team’s targets, earning him a WR17 finish. The team’s third best receiver, Brandin Cooks, has been traded leaving an opportunity. Behind him was Josh Reynolds, who is serviceable in relief but not as a starter. The Rams run an up tempo offense that features a ton of play-action. In 2019 they ran the eighth most plays and passed on 62% of them. While Goff might have disappointed some last season after his 2018 performance, he was still at least within average when targeting most parts of the field. While this is a team that does devote targets to the running backs and tight end, the departure of Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks leaves a glaring opportunity in one of the most pass-heavy offenses in football.
Rivals’ Rapid Analysis
Van Jefferson is a slot receiver that did not have the best age-adjusted college production. Jefferson’s profile is incomplete without athleticism measurements but teams in the NFL value players like him that possess advanced route-running abilities. The Rams invested shockingly high draft capital into Jefferson. He has an equally shocking opportunity and will compete with Kupp, Woods, Everett for targets from Goff.
Van Jefferson is in Dave’s late-third or early-fourth tier of wide receivers depending on a few other landing spots. Jefferson is Dave’s WR15-WR17 and his 33rd-35th rookie overall. Dave would let someone else take Jefferson in superflex rookie drafts. He slots in behind Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Gerald Everett, Tyler Higbee, and Cam Akers. He never broke out in college, has uninspiring age-adjusted production, is a mediocre athlete, and has a messy landing spot with the Rams. Jefferson will be going in the mid-late second round of drafts. There are better values at wide receiver in that range and it’s better to target high upside running backs in that range as well.
Van Jefferson is in Shawn’s fourth wide receiver tier, Shawn’s WR17, and his Overall Rookie Rank 33. Shawn would target Jefferson in the early third round in superflex rookie drafts (late second to early third round in single QB). This is just a messy pick. There are a lot more productive receivers still on the board. McVay hasn’t quite recaptured the Wunderkind cape he lost in the 2019 Super Bowl. Jefferson isn’t an exciting prospect, his efficiency numbers were uninspired during college. But worth noting is that the Rams only have three receivers on their roster who saw any snaps in 2019. They will undoubtedly look to get Cam Akers involved in the passing game, possibly to resurrect a 2018 version of Todd Gurley. Jefferson might be an interesting prospect as the WR3 for this team, but let someone else take him before the third round starts as he will lack targets heading into 2020.
This article was written in collaboration with Shawn Kennedy. For more analysis check out Dave and Shawn’s previous articles at Dynasty Football Factory. Additionally, you can also find Dave’s dynasty superflex rankings at Dynasty Football Factory. Stay tuned for more rookie wide receiver rapid reaction articles from us throughout the entire NFL Draft. We will also give you instant reactions for priority UDFA wide receivers to help you try and find the next Adam Thielen. Interact with Dave and Shawn on Twitter @ff_spaceman and @ff_walrus. You can listen to our rivalry on our podcast @ATaleofTwoRivals with @ff_banterman.