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Buccaneers Draft Profile: Wide Receiver, Justin Jefferson

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Tampa Bay needs depth at receiver and an LSU product may provide the answer.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Louisiana State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers are a two man show at receiver with Breshad Perriman gone and it’s no secret that the rest of the crew still has a lot to prove behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The team certainly could roll the dice and hope the likes of Scotty Miller and Justin Watson continue to improve and one becomes a viable third option, but this particular draft offers potential upgrades across a multitude of rounds.

When looking at this draft, several pundits believe there will be starting caliber talent as deep as the start of day three. Considering the Buccaneers struck gold with their second round pick from a few years ago, Chris Godwin, and have had past success with fourth round pick Mike Williams back in 2010, it would make a lot of sense to again invest in the position.

One of the potential first round targets in this group is an LSU product that dominated this past year including an out of this world performance against Oklahoma in the College Football Playoffs en route to a National Championship. That player is none other than Justin Jefferson.

Justin Jefferson’s Collegiate Career

Justin Jefferson is the younger brother of former LSU players Jordan Jefferson (Quarterback) and Rickie Jefferson (Safety). Justin was a standout at Destrehan High School which is located in the New Orleans area where he was a highly rated receiver and return man.

When Justin Jefferson arrived on campus at LSU, things didn’t exactly go as planned for the freshman who struggled to see the field his first year and didn’t record a single reception. In total, Jefferson only saw action in 4 games during his 2017 freshman season. Things would take a turn for the better quite quickly following the year.

As 2018 rolled around, Jefferson took over and took off as a top receiver for the program. Jefferson would tally 54 receptions and 875 yards to go with 6 touchdowns. It was only a sign of things to come as Jefferson built a great on-field relationship with Joe Burrow.

2019 came and Justin Jefferson saw a meteoric type rise in production. Jefferson would finish tied for the FBS lead in receptons with 111 and nearly doubled his yardage output from 2018 with 1,540 yards receiving. Only teammate Ja’Marr Chase would finish with more touchdown receptions than Jefferson’s 18.

Pros

Justin Jefferson’s game is built on his first step which is quick and decisive. Jefferson does a good job changing direction and working tempo into his routes. Jefferson is consistent as a route runner and showed a good understanding of how to use leverage and read the defense mid-play.

Jefferson displayed a consistent ability to go and grab the ball away from his body and screened the ball coming to him by delaying the show of his hands going to get the pass. Because of this, Jefferson tracked and adjusted well on the run.

Jefferson did a good job as a run blocker as well the last two seasons as LSU. Jefferson does a good job blocking with leverage and utilizing his hands.

Jefferson adjusted mid-air as well as anyone in this draft class and combines that with an incredible catch-radius that was on full display the last two seasons. Did a very good job out-leaping defenders and won his fair share of 50/50 balls.

Cons

Jefferson does have some cleaning up to do in a few areas, one of which is getting in and out of breaks during the route. Jefferson tends to have elongated strides into his breaks. These longer strides give away the element of surprise and gives defenders a chance to muddy the route.

Jefferson will have to get more adjusted to the pro game given the amount of open releases and uncontested passes the spread system gave him at LSU. Jefferson will need to show better success at getting off the line against press coverage and will need to refine technique to allow his speed to come thru in games. Separation abilities on deep routes was not what one would expect from a player with the athletic ability of Jefferson.

Why The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Need Justin Jefferson

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a player like Justin Jefferson because of his ability to line up across multiple formations. Jefferson played both inside as a slot receiver and outside for LSU. Jefferson has decent size at 6’1” and 202 lbs and his large catch radius and good hands fit in nicely with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Speaking of fitting in with those two, Jefferson would have at least 2020 to grow and get acclaimated to the offense without the stress and pressure of being a go to receiver for Tom Brady.

Jefferson projects out by most to be a very good number two receiver within his first couple of seasons and several draft analyst have put high praise on the SEC product, believing in due time he’ll potentially be a teams number one. This should resonate with the Buccaneers due to the big payday that Chris Godwin is likely headed towards should he post another season like 2019. If Godwin ends up getting paid by the Buccaneers on a long term deal, that almost certainly means Mike Evans is potentially a step towards being out the door due to cap related reasons. Jefferson could be the heir to the wide receiver throne down the road.

Another possibility here should Godwin get paid is the potential that Tom Brady comes off the books in two seasons and the Buccaneers have an elite trio of receivers for a possible rookie or first time starter to work with. If you’re looking to set up a young quarterback for success, what better way to do so with a great stable of targets to throw passes too?

Should It Happen?

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Louisiana State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Knowing it’s going to take a first round draft pick to secure Justin Jefferson... that’s a tough decision to make. It’s one that Tampa Bay may be faced with should the drafts top offensive tackle options go in the picks leading up to the Buccaneers’.

So, Bucs Nation, with what you know about the teams current roster and the ability of Justin Jefferson, do they pull the trigger?. What are your thoughts on Davis potentially being a fit in Tampa Bay? Be sure to vote in the poll and let us know your thoughts in the comments section down below.

Poll

How Do You Feel About Justin Jefferson For The Buccaneers In The 2020 NFL Draft?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Draft Him No Matter What
    (11 votes)
  • 16%
    Trade Back Candidate
    (31 votes)
  • 33%
    I Wouldn’t Mind It
    (61 votes)
  • 25%
    There Are Better Options
    (46 votes)
  • 18%
    Nope
    (34 votes)
183 votes total Vote Now