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Better Know a Freshman: Justin Jefferson

The youngest Jefferson bolsters WR depth.

Offensive transitions can be rocky roads. Defensive players are more fungible. Just last season LSU shoehorned a pass-rushing DE prospect into a playable drop coverage LB and he wound up making the Vikings roster. Most offensive players aren’t simply interchangeable.

Since hiring Matt Canada, Orgeron’s been vocal about the need to build quality WR depth. In the Miles era, LSU’s idea of a spread consisted of 3 WRs, or more typically, 3 players lined up wide, one of which may just be a blocking TE or FB. LSU used more 2WR sets and rarely rotated players out of their designated roles. Canada’s offense is a whole new world when it comes to positional rotation and depth. Ideally, the roster would feature 8-10 players that could see meaningful snaps during a game. Right now that number sits at 6.. if you count a true freshman that’s only played against Chattanooga.

This is not an issue that will be solved in a single offseason and Orgeron already made it a priority bringing in transfer Jonathan Giles, shifting JaCoby Stevens to offense and taking 3-star Racey McMath. Justin Jefferson is another on the list of late additions to bolster the WR core.

Back of the Card

110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has "can’t miss" talent.

100 - 98 = Five-star prospect. One of the top 30 players in the nation. This player has excellent pro-potential and should emerge as one of the best in the country before the end of his career. There will be 32 prospects ranked in this range in every football class to mirror the first round of the NFL Draft.

97 - 90 = Four-star prospect. One of the top 300 players in the nation. This prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. He is an All-American candidate who is projected to play professionally.

89 - 80 = Three-star prospect. One of the top 10% players in the nation. This player will develop into a reliable starter for his college team and is among the best players in his region of the country. Many three-stars have significant pro potential.

79 - below = Two-star prospect. This player makes up the bulk of Division I rosters. He may have little pro-potential, but is likely to become a role player for his respective school.

247 Composite Ranking: ***
247 Composite Rating: .7982

If you had any doubt, yes, it is that Jefferson family. The youngest Jefferson never received quite the recruiting attention of his older brothers, instead receiving offers from smaller in-state schools and Northwestern. It wasn’t until late summer that LSU actually extended interest in Jefferson, notably after former 2017 signee Seth Stewart left the program.

It’s a little bit baffling he didn’t have a better offer list. At 6’2”, 180, and running pretty well, that’s typically enough to get you offers, especially coming from a family that’s had some success. Ranked 2,163 in the composite and as the 308th WR in the 2017 signing class, it’s safe to say Jefferson is the lowest ranked recruit LSU signed in 2017.

On the Field

Already There: Speed, Hands, Willing Blocker

Working On It: Route Running

Doesn’t Have It: Elite Anything

Already There

Speed: Can’t see the whole play at :19, but you can tell he’s a pretty easy strider that can ramp up the speed. Not only does he get behind the defense, he runs away from defenders until he slows to a trot to cross the GL. The play at :34 is another fine example of his ability to breakaway in a straight line.

Hands: The snag at :11 is the type of thing that makes ESPN top 10 reels. Not only is it seriously great body control, it flashes how strong his hands are. At 1:05 you get another nice flash of how he extends his arms out and plucks the ball from the air. I like the play at 2:03 because he has such great body control and is able to contort and still snatch the ball out of the air.

Willing Blocker: Probably what got him a scholly more than anything. Jefferson is willing to get out there and play physically. At 2:12 he absolutely manhandles the DB. At 3:55 you can see him hunting bodies on a crack-back type of block.

Working On It

Route Running: His tape doesn’t show much diversity. He’s a very one-note route runner, and that note is the Go route. There’s a couple others mixed in, but this tape is largely just him running sprints down the sideline. He’s got a ways to go there.

Doesn’t Have It

Elite Anything: Jefferson doesn’t have elite tools. He’s got pretty good size at 6’2”, 180, but nothing sensational. He’s fast, but not a world beater. He can catch, but he’s not Jarvis Landry.

Poseur’s 80s Movie Comparison

People complain about sequels and remakes these days, but Hollywood has always been addicted to the sequel. If it worked once, why not again and again and again? In that spirit, LSU now has found a sequel to the Jordan Jefferson sequel, again, but again with a little spin. Justin Jefferson is at a different position to avoid the direct comparison.

So Justin gets Nightmare on Elm Street 3 which, to be honest, is probably the best movie in the entire series except for the original. It gives some agency to the victims instead of just making them faceless victims. And yeah, it lacks the darkness of the original and the creepy vibe of an almost dreamlike state for most of its running time, but the Dream Warriors is simply a lot of fun. It’s not quite a horror comedy, but it is a comedic horror film. It’s not great, but it’s an entertaining watch.

Sequels can be a lot of fun.

What the Future Holds

When I watch Jefferson’s tape there’s a strong part of me that wonders why he didn’t generate more attention solely based on size/speed/family history. But then, I watch his tape and he feels very much like “just a guy” out there. He doesn’t really have distinguishable traits. He does what he does fine, but not spectacularly. And that kinda makes him spare parts in a recruiting class. He does seem like the type of kid that would typically wind up at Tech, ULL, Tulane, Monroe, etc.

I’m not sure his full recruiting story. I’m sure he probably dreamed of playing at LSU and keeping his family history alive there. He really held on to that hope for a long time, unless he was planning on attending and just walking on. He’s not nearly as gifted as his older brothers.

The future for Jefferson may be scant. I do think he has a solid frame, so if he can get up to 210 pounds on his 6’2” frame, he’s a guy you can really use as a blocker. He has some quicks, but I don’t know if it’s in the cards for him to develop as a route runner. He’s a guy that we can probably use to try and break one deep, but I think his roles will be fairly limited. He’s a nice, quality roster depth addition that can help you in practice and maybe the run game.

High End: Program player and depth chart filler. ST stud. 4th/5th WR.
Low End: Leaves the program.
Realistic: He’s depth. He’s a ST player. I don’t see him ever making an impact at WR.