Jefferson seems like the perfect player for a Bill Belichick team, he possesses a competitive edge and an attitude that fits the Patriots system perfectly.
The 2020 NFL draft may be the most important draft in Bill Belichick's tenure with the New England Patriots. For the first time ever the Patriots are in a situation where they might actually have to draft a quarterback, it's still not clear to a lot of people whether or not the Patriots want to move forward with Jarrett Stidham as their starting quarterback, or find their future in the draft.
Yesterday we looked at a possible draft candidate Jordan Love as possible draft pick. Though it would be easy to just keep talking about quarterbacks everyday, the Patriots have a lot of positions that they need to address. Today I want to look at a prospect that can help bolster the Patriots wide receiver Corps.
Today we will be looking at Florida receiver Van Jefferson. Jefferson is 6'1 and weighs 200 LBS, and NFL.com has given him a grade of 6.27.
Jefferson seems like the perfect player for a Bill Belichick team, he possesses a competitive edge and an attitude that fits the Patriots system perfectly. Van Jefferson is the son of former NFL receiver and current New York Jets assistant coach Shawn Jefferson, which shouldn't necessarily impact how a team evaluates him, but sometimes lineage is important to the decision making process.
Jefferson has a strong ability to alter his speed and angles while running his routes, keeping the cornerbacks off balance. He also possesses an above-average release against press coverage. Jefferson has quickness and Agility that has been compared to Adam Humphries. He also has the ability to run complex routes, which is something that the Patriots were missing last season.
Jefferson is being looked at as a WR3, and he could add a lot of valuable depth to the Patriots receiving corps. His hand use is very intelligent, and he is very subtle in his catch approach. His attention to detail allows him the gain separation, and he's an overall intelligent player who should be able to adapt to the Patriots offense very quickly, especially since we have to assume it will be somewhat simplified with Tom Brady leaving for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He does draw the attention of opposing defenses, and he was able to draw 11 penalties over the last two seasons, including three pass interference calls against Auburn in 2019.
He brilliantly uses his leverage and works his way back to the throw. He has strong hands to protect the catch points, and is an even bigger threat after the catch as he's able to turn and get the ball upfield quickly.
There's a lot of things to like about Jefferson, he does have some setbacks, he lacks top-end speed and is not seen as a vertical threat. He can sometimes get caught up in a Zone defense, and right now he shows more promise while in man-to-man coverage. But he would bring a unique skill set to the patriots, because the majority of the Patriots current roster plays better in zone coverage and struggles to create separation in man-to-man, so even though Jefferson doesn't have explosive speed, he can be at target in tight coverage.
Jefferson is not seen as one of the top receivers in the draft, but because this year's draft is so deep at the receiver position, Belichick should be able to secure him in the fourth round, where any other season I believe van Jefferson would be selected as a third, even possibly a fourth rounder. By being able to secure him later in the draft, Belichick would be able to use his first round pick on a more pressing position like the quarterback.
All in all, I would be very excited if Bill Belichick were able to draft Jefferson, and I think a combination of N'Keal Harry, jakobi Meyers, and Van Jefferson, would be a pretty solid trio moving forward. The Patriots don't have to address the WR1 position this year, they still have Julian Edelman, and Belichick could use next year's draft or free agency to select a younger top-flight receiver to add to the mix. That would set the Patriots up to having a solid receiving corps one through four for a long time.
In my most current mock draft I completed on fanspeak.com, I have the Patriots selecting Jefferson in the fourth with the 125th pick.