The Los Angeles Rams Land an NFL-Ready Receiver in Van Jefferson
As a redshirt-senior who transferred from Ole Miss, Jefferson is slightly older than most prospects -- he turns 24 in July -- but his NFL-ready skill should allow him to step in and make an immediate impact.
How He Wins
Jefferson appears to lack elite athleticism -- he did not workout at the combine due to a foot injury -- but he has the technique to win despite modest physical tools. As the son of former NFL receiver and current New York Jets receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, it's no surprise that Jefferson is among the most fundamentally sound receivers in the 2020 draft class.
As demonstrated by this chart from CFB Film Room, Jefferson's ability to consistently come down with the football makes him a steady weapon.
Florida's Van Jefferson could hear his name called at some point on Friday. His reliable hands and steady route-running makes him a potential instant-impact player in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/LG0wQUWnY3
— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) April 24, 2020
With a 5.8 percent drop rate and a 91 percent overall catch rate, Jefferson is likely to gain the confidence of Jared Goff quickly.
How He Fits in Los Angeles
The Rams like to use their receivers interchangeably inside and outside, and they often target the receiver lined up in the slot, so we should expect Jefferson to play a versatile role in the offense. While he primarily played on the outside at Florida, he did line up in the slot on 25 percent of his snaps over the last two seasons, according to Sports Info Solutions.
With Cooks gone, Jefferson clearly has a path to a fantasy-relevant role in the Rams' offense. However, he will likely have to battle Josh Reynolds for playing time. Reynolds has been the fourth receiver in the Rams' offense the last two seasons and has been consistently productive when forced into a larger role.
It's possible the Rams have concerns about Reynolds stepping into a significant role on a full-time basis, prompting the selection of Jefferson. However, it's also possible this move was more about the team's long-term future at receiver. Both Reynolds and Cooper Kupp are set to become free agents after the 2020 season.
With his role uncertain for 2020, Jefferson doesn't appear to have much immediate fantasy value in redraft leagues, although his training camp battle with Reynolds should be monitored closely. In dynasty leagues, Jefferson is a more intriguing option, as he appears destined for a significant role in a reliable offensive system by 2021 at the latest.