Rookie Spotlight: Van Jefferson, Florida
Height: 6’1 1/4″
Weight: 197 pounds
Hands: 9 1/8″
Arm: 32 1/8″
40 yard dash: 4.56 (unofficial)
NFL Comparison: Rashard Higgins, Roger Lewis
– elite body control
– impeccable route runner
– NFL pedigree
– solid hands
– wide catch radius
– had a terrific Senior Bowl week
– mediocre top speed
– thin frame
– is already a redshirt senior, will enter the NFL at age 24
2019 Team Market-Share Numbers
15% team receptions
17% team receiving yards
19% team receiving TDs
Scouting Notes: Averaging over 13 yards per catch, 500+ yards and 6 TDs over the last two years in a crowded Florida receiving corps, Van Jefferson does all the little things well, but that’s not surprising considering his dad is Shawn Jefferson, longtime former NFL receiver and current wide receiver coach for the New York Jets. Jefferson’s strongest skill is displayed before he even gets the ball in his hands, as his ability to beat defenders off the line is elite. His first step is sudden, and he gets in and out of his cuts with an ease that comes with constant drilling. Jefferson can come back and get the ball on hook and curl routes or make the contested catch downfield. PFF recently named true-shutdown freshman CB Derek Stingley of LSU as Freshman of the Year in College Football in 2019, and Jefferson was one of only three players that was able to score a touchdown in his coverage all season.
Jefferson started his career at Ole Miss and transferred to Florida in 2018, likely due to the fact that Ole Miss had talented receivers such as AJ Brown, DK Metcalf and Damarkus Lodge already in the fold which would be a clear hinderance to playing time.
His ability to adjust makes him an invaluable asset on the inside and the outside, and he has strong hands that rarely let the ball get away. Jefferson is slight in build, but he’s got a wide catch radius and his technical prowess helps him to outwork more physical corners. He’s also a proven pass-blocker thanks to a concerted effort from Florida receivers coach Billy Gonzales to improve his receivers’ skill in that area. The one drawback I notice in his game is that although Jefferson is explosive off the line, his top speed is nothing to write home about. He reportedly ran a hand-timed 4.56 at Florida, and we know that hand times can be very deceiving, and usually in a way that leans much more to the positive-side. Fortunately, he’s skilled enough that his lack of burner speed is often mitigated.
Fantasy Outlook: Jefferson can be a reliable chain mover with an uncanny first move, who can also turn up the field for big plays if necessary in the mold of Michael Thomas. He’s NFL ready in his route running, and he doesn’t need to be taught how to block. If he can handle the speed of NFL corners, Jefferson can be a reliable fantasy producer from day one in the league. He also excelled as a gunner on special teams, so he should get on-field action from early on. We’ll need to see how he performs at the Senior Bowl, but the outlook for Jefferson is very positive.
High School (via UF Sports Information Department)Selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl… Rated a 4-star prospect by all the major recruiting services… Member of the ESPN 300, Rivals 250 and Scout National 300… Participated in Nike’s The Opening camp… Named a finalist for Tennessee’s Mr. Football in the back category for Class AAA… Garnered Tennessee Sports Writers Association All-State and The Tennessean All-Midstate honors, hauling in 67 catches for 1,223 yards and 13 touchdowns, helping lead Ravenwood to a 14-1 record and a Class AAAAAA runner-up finish… Totaled 87 catches for 1,251 yards and 14 TDs as a junior… Coached in high school by Will Hester.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Like all rookie profiles, this one will continue to be updated through the winter and spring with intel as we acquire it. When applicable/available, these profiles will be supplemented with transcriptions of scouting combine interviews with the players following the event, new photos and videos as well as other media we can gather through our offseason pursuits of fantasy dominance.