Alshon Jeffery (WR, South Carolina) in review

So far in this series we’ve looked at Matt Barkley and Landry Jones (courtesy of game tape supplied by Draft Breakdown). The next four 2012 prospects in focus will all be wide receivers, starting with Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina) and moving on to Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M), Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma) and Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State).

Jeffery is a true junior with 2280 yards and 15 touchdowns already in credit. He enjoyed a productive freshman season (763 yards, six scores) and really burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2010 (1517 yards, nine TD’s). At 6-3, 233lbs he’s very much in the Mike Williams category of receiver and will draw some comparisons to Jonathan Baldwin (drafted 26th overall by Kansas City this year). Jeffery has benefited from a potent setup at South Carolina. Stephen Garcia is a capable quarterback and Marcus Lattimore’s 1197-17 touchdown freshman campaign added elite rushing skills to an already thriving offense.

The similarities between Baldwin and Jeffery may grow depending on the fate of the aforementioned Garcia. He’s currently suspended after yet another off the field incident and there’s some talk his days as the Gamecock’s signal caller are over. If they’re forced to turn to less experienced sophomore QB Connor Shaw, it could spell trouble for both Jeffery and Lattimore. Ask anyone who followed Pittsburgh last year for the evidence.

With Bill Stull at quarterback – a capable if not explosive college player who eventually went undrafted in 2010 – Baldwin recorded 1111 yards with eight touchdowns in 2009. When Stull moved on the Panthers transitioned to sophomore Tito Sunseri who was anything but consistent. Productive games against Rutgers and West Virginia were offset by poor displays against Miami and Kentucky. Baldwin’s production took a major hit, dropping to 822 yards and just five touchdowns, despite catching only four fewer passes in 2010.

The end product was a player who entered the year as a possible top-15 prospect and went into the draft with some touting a fall into round three. Kansas City took a chance on the big body that could move and flashed explosive talent, but a few eyebrows were raised when he went at #26.

As I hinted earlier, it wasn’t just Baldwin that suffered. Dion Lewis went from a 1799 yard rusher with 17-touchdowns to a struggling running back who scraped to 1061 yards in 2010 with four less touchdowns. There were other mitigating factors in Pittsburgh that contributed to a disappointing season last year, but there’s no doubt what so ever that inconsistent and inexperienced quarterback play hampered the teams’ skill players.

If Garcia is out in South Carolina, that could hurt Lattimore (who won’t be available for the draft until 2013) and Jeffery’s production in a similar fashion. Last week ESPN’s Todd McShay paired the big receiver with Seattle in his early 2012 mock draft at #7 overall. Jeffery’s certainly capable of going in that range but he’ll need to maintain the same kind of production witnessed during his excellent sophomore year.

So what’s to like? He gets separation despite lacking an explosive first step or brilliant deep speed. He is fluid into his breaks and he’s shown the ability to make big time catches away from his body – that’s absolutely key when judging these big name receivers. There are one too many body-catches, but you expect to see that because not every player is going to be Michael Crabtree in that regard. You can toss the ball up in his general direction and he’ll go up and get the football. He’s not going to beat anyone deep with pure speed, but he’ll be a great red zone target.

He looks a notch slower than Jonathan Baldwin on his deep routes but he makes up for it with much greater control and awareness, especially when he leaps for the football and extends those long arms. Look at the way he gets open on the second touchdown against Alabama – that’s the kind of thing teams want to see from a guy who won’t run in the 4.4’s.

You can see in several instances where Garcia was willing to take a shot at throwing into tight windows, trusting his receiver to make a play. There’s also the odd spectacular play, such as the stunning one-handed grab against Alabama with Dre Kirkpatrick (another possible top-15 pick next year) draped all over him. That kind of quality will boost his stock and make up for the lack of elite deep speed. He’s not going to be Julio Jones – who ran in the 4.3’s to match the size and ended up in the top-ten. I’m not convinced that even with another year of great production Jeffery can go in that range. He’s very much in that 10-25 area for me as we shift attention to the 2011 college season.

However, if I’ve spent a lot of money on a young franchise quarterback and I’m looking for a safety net to make life easy then I’m less concerned about the speed and more concerned about how Jeffery absolutely fits the bill. I’m not entirely sure why McShay paired Jeffery with Seattle because ultimately the Seahawks already have this type of player on the roster. At the end of the day, what use are two big bodied receivers when the only contracted quarterback currently on the team’s roster is Charlie Whitehurst? His contract is also up after 2011 and if Seattle does own yet another top-ten pick next year, you have to believe quarterback comes first. In McShay’s mock, Landry Jones is still on the board.


  1. Nate Dogg

    Love this guy so much. So, so much. I agree that it’s hard to see how he would fit into Seattle’s plans but there aren’t too many players I’d rather see in Seahawk blue. He might not have Julio Jones’ top end speed but he’s a far more natural receiver. I’m a little surprised you have him in the 10-25 range after having Green in the top ten of your mocks heading into the draft, I’m not sure Jefferey isn’t the better player.

    • Rob

      I’m a big Jeffery fan but Green was a rare case. Quite frankly a stunning overall prospect with immense potential. The problem with Jeffery is his stock will be dictated by the forty time somewhat, which I expect will be in the late 4.5’s or 4.6 area and a lot of teams are going to think possession receiver – and those guys don’t often go in the top ten. If he has another great year, he has every chance of going in that 10-15 range which is where Michael Crabtree went. If the production suffers a bit, he will drop. But he’s still a player I look forward to covering with great anticipation in the fall.

      • Nate Dogg

        Yeah, he might have a touch of what you knocked Von Miller for. Amazingly fun to watch, amazingly productive, but there will be some questions about how his measurables fit in the NFL.

        Ugh, look what you’ve done. I’m already dreaming up scenarios where Seattle could trade up from their (early) second round pick if Jeffery was to drop into the 20s.

  2. Kip Earlywine

    Jeez, even his jersey number is the same!

  3. ba_edwards24

    Nowhere near the prospect AJ Green is. Very good hands but not elite and made some body catches in the middle of the field. Also very average after the catch. I’d actually say his deep speed is underrated but he needs to get revved up first. No shake; could affect his ability to get off press coverage at the next level. Not a top 10 prospect in my mind, but obviously will be a very good receiver at the next level. I save the top 10 for pass rushers, QBs, LTs, and only elite corners/WRs; he’s not elite, but Julio wasn’t either. I’d much rather have one of the top 3 QBs.

  4. Derek

    Obviously it would be crazy to pass up a franchise QB, but if Jeffrey is BPA when we pick next year, would it not me productive to line him up opposite BMW? Obviously both aren’t burners but offer big targets. If Durham and Tate can provide a deep presence, then we have three 6’3″+ receivers.

  5. Derek

    Obviously it would be crazy to pass up a franchise QB, but if Jeffrey is BPA when we pick next year, would it not be productive to line him up opposite BMW? Obviously both aren’t burners but offer big targets. If Durham and Tate can provide a deep presence, then we have three 6’3″+ receivers.

  6. Misfit74

    Jeffery is a man amongst boys at the college level. I’m curious if he has NFL speed. He seems to have everything else.

    It’s a two horse race for best WR draft-eligible for 2012 between Blackmon and Jeffery. Right now I’d give the edge to Blackmon.

    • Matt MTJ

      I would agree with this. For the Seahawks, I’d prefer Blackmon as he has a chance to be a Greg Jennings, Roddy White type of player.

  7. Don

    I would also like to see a break away running back threat like Trent Richardson or LaMichael James on the Seahawk roster. When are you going to review the running backs? Will these two backs be available with a high 2nd round pick?

    • Rob

      Loads of players to get through over the summer and we’ll be on the running backs soon. Richardson will be a top-20 pick, James should be available in the range you suggested.

  8. Misfit74

    The more I watch of him the more I like (Jefferey). Man those hands are great. Body-control. Aggressive going after the ball – plays WR like Ingram does RB: angry. Need to see some more route-running but he looks special. Looks like a slower Calvin – just huge with very sticky hands and strength, too. It will be fun following his progression this year.

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