Anyone worried about not having a first round draft pick? I’m not. Ask any NFL talent evaluator worth his salary and he will tell you that the scouts and GMs who keep their job are the ones who know how to find talent outside of the first round. With that In mind, during the next few weeks I will profile 32 players who will likely find their way out of the first round, but could still make an impact in the NFL.
NFL COMPARISON: Michael Griffin, Tennessee Titans.
His ability to change direction is the biggest asset he will take with him to the NFL. Jefferson glides up and down the field, shifting effortlessly at full speed making plays sideline to sideline. While other players at the position may run a faster 40 yard dash, none of them can maintain the speed Jefferson can while changing directions. He also takes very little time to hit top gear when coming in and out of his breaks, which aids to his already very good ability to close on the ball in run support and pass coverage. While he needs to play under control more, Jefferson is fearless and throws his body around in run support. When he gets his angles right he can deliver a big hit and separate the receiver from the ball, but he also flashes the ability to actually play the ball and avoid the dreaded highlight hit/15 yard completion combo that plagues so many NFL safeties. Jefferson is also a very good run and pass blitzer, hitting the hole with explosion and has a knack for timing his attack perfectly.
The concerns I have about Jefferson’s game is his lack of ability to consistently play the position with his brain and eyes. Too many times I’ve seen him get jumpy instead of trusting his reads and this has led to him being badly out of position. Jefferson needs to work on his angles and playing under control, as his tackling technique in the open field is good enough for the most part, but what really hurts him is he doesn’t always turn on the breaks a bit when he has to and flings himself at the ball carrier, resulting in avoidable missed tackles.
Tony Jefferson’s three consecutive interceptions (5:oo, 5:40, and 7:10) vs Ball State in 2011.
NFL COMPARISON: Mark Tauscher, Green Bay Packers
Gets into his pass pro stance in the blink of an eye.Extremely quick feet allow him to shadow speed rushers and guide them around the QB. Very good lateral quickness makes him effective in sliding and picking up blitzers. At times he flashes the quickness and ability to change direction of a tight end which makes him tailor-made for a zone blocking scheme. Has the agility to get his body in position to hit a moving target while blocking on the run. Technique and hand placement usually right where it should be.
Won’t overwhelm anyone with his strength which is something he has to improve if he is to add to his value by adjusting to different positions at the next level. Lacks the strong hands to latch on to his defender and steer him in whatever direction he needs to and can be moved off-balance by club and rip moves as his hands aren’t strong enough to win those pseudo boxing matches that often go on in the trenches. While he is quick to his stance and plays with good knee bend, his first punch is severely lacking and will not jar defenders backwards in the NFL unless he gets stronger.
* The players profiled are only ones relevant to our needs, fit what we run and realistically attainable in accordance to our draft position.
By: Uri Piterberg
Follow him on twitter @bangersnmash209