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Why Justin Jefferson Is Not a Lock to Be Drafted in the First Round of the 2020 NFL Draft

| April 2, 2020 3:58 am PDT
Justin Jefferson 2020 NFL Draft

By all accounts, Justin Jefferson looks like a first-round prospect. Here’s a guy who led the nation with 111 receptions, ranked second in the country in receiving touchdowns, and finished with the third-most receiving yards of any pass catcher in America.

Noah Davis’ Eagles three-round mock has Jefferson landing in Philly at pick #21, which is right about where you’ll find him slotted in most 2020 NFL mock drafts.

However, I’m ready to play devil’s advocate.

It’s not easy to convince draft enthusiasts that the 21-year-old Louisiana native will slide to day 2, but I’m not ready to sign off that it can’t conceivably happen.

On that note, I’ll give you 3 reasons why Justin Jefferson won’t be a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

No Joe Brady, No Joe Burrow

The jaw-dropping numbers Justin Jefferson put up last season in Baton Rouge can’t be ignored, nor can they be denied.

But perhaps they can be explained.

The LSU offense was incredibly unique last season and will go down as one of the most prolific passing attacks in history. For crying out loud, Justin’s numbers were off the charts, yet he didn’t even lead his team in receiving yards or receiving touchdowns. That honor went to Biletnikoff winner Ja’Marr Chase.

Two reasons Jefferson (and other LSU receivers) had it so good was because of the two Joes.

Well, Joe Burrow is moving on as the number one pick in the NFL Draft. After what he accomplished with the Tigers, Joe Brady was the most coveted offensive mind by NFL organizations and is now the OC in Carolina.

In other words, Justin Jefferson can no longer rely on Joe Brady to script brilliant plays that allow him to easily find gaps in zone coverage. He won’t have Joe Burrow dropping dimes, and he will no longer be playing against subpar competition.

I don’t want to jump the gun and call him a system receiver, but GMs are aware of the golden situation he was in last year at LSU.

Lots of Competition at WR

Chances are between five and seven WRs will be taken in round one of the draft. Let’s investigate who they could be.

We can all agree that Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Henry Ruggs III are all shoo-ins. I showcased multiple reasons why Jalen Reagor will be a first-round pick, and I am yet to see many mocks that don’t give Clemson’s Tee Higgins a first-round grade. Denzel Mims is right on the cusp, as are Laviska Shenault and Brandon Aiyuk.

While it may not be likely Justin Jefferson falls into the second round, we can start to envision scenarios in which it could occur. 

Bullied in Press Coverage 

NFL corners are physical, they are fast, and for the most part, they aren’t afraid. Jefferson squared off against plenty of good corners in SEC competition, but now he’ll be facing elite defensive backs who can bully him in press coverage.

Some NFL draft sites have Justin listed as tall as 6’3 and as heavy as 194 pounds, while others have him pegged at 6’1” and 185 pounds. Either way, he’s a lengthy wideout who lacks the upper body strength to outmuscle NFL DBs at the line of scrimmage. There’s a reason Jefferson was happy to show off his skills at the combine in the 40-yard dash and leaping workouts but neglected to take part in anything having to do with the bench press.

Due to Justin potentially not being able to create separation when faced with press coverage, I could see teams backing off with their first-round selection.

Quick Rehash

There are two props at the top-rated online NFL sportsbooks reflecting Justin Jefferson being taken in the first round, but that doesn’t mean it’s already a done deal. There’s no guarantee Jefferson will be drafted ahead of Denzel Mims or Tee Higgins, and don’t be shocked if Jalen Reagor sneaks into the top 25 selections.

When you account for all of the wide receiver talent and how individuals will mesh in certain systems, it’d be naïve to think the LSU WR couldn’t slide past the first 22 picks.

NFL executives could be concerned that the pass-happy system instituted by Joe Brady and carried out by Joe Burrow is really what made Justin stand out. I alluded to Jefferson’s below-average strength and how that might affect him beating press coverage. 

These aren’t red flags that are going to necessarily scare anyone away, but they could be substantial enough to push him to into day 2 of the draft.

Michael Wynn

As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for GamblingSites.com on football, basketball, and baseball.

Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.

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