South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery is one of the top wide receivers in the 2012 NFL draft class. He brings a lot of positives to the field but also has some issues in his game. At this point, he projects as a late first-round to early second-round prospect.
Jeffery's stock has taken a major hit since the beginning of the season. At one point, he was seen as a solid top-10 pick. Because of the concerns laid out in this article, Jeffery's stock is at an all-time low. However, he still possesses enough upside to make a major impact in the NFL.
At 6'3", 216 pounds, Alshon Jeffery boasts excellent size for the wide receiver position. This size helps create mismatches, making Jeffery a very tough cover. The average NFL cornerback is about 5'11" to 6'0", meaning Jeffery has some three inches on most defenders.
Jeffery doesn't only have good height, he also has a wide frame. This allows him to box defenders from the ball. Defensive backs have a tough time getting around him to make a play on the pass. His ability to box out also helps make up for some deficiencies Jeffery has as a route runner.
The NFL is all about creating mismatches, and Jeffery's size and frame will help offensive coordinators accomplish that feat.
Alshon Jeffery is a long strider, which limits his overall explosiveness. It takes him some time to get up to full speed, hurting his ability to quickly get off the line. The longer it takes a receiver to get into his route, the more the timing of the offense is disrupted.
His limited explosiveness also negatively impacts his ability to create separation. Defenders are able to stick to his hip as he breaks out of his route. Quick-twitch athletes are able to create space after they break off their route, which is something Jeffery will struggle with at the next level.
Ultimately, Jeffery will be limited in the type of routes where he'll be able to find consistent success. Long striders tend to do a good job stretching the field and working routes that don't require perfect timing. Luckily for Jeffery, his good size helps him overcome some of his quickness concerns.
Alshon Jeffery's height is complemented by his ability to out-leap most defenders. He uses his size to gain position and then attacks the ball at its highest point. This skill will make Jeffery one of his quarterback's favorite targets. The quarterback can feel comfortable that Jeffery can make a play on even a poorly-thrown ball.
This skill set also makes Jeffery a dangerous red-zone target. A team's efficiency in the red zone can impact the outcome of an entire season. Everybody would rather score a touchdown than a field goal, an area where Jeffery can help.
The way he goes up and gets the football reminds me of Brandon Marshall. Jeffery could have a similar career path as Marshall, minus some of the off-field issues.
Stiffness in his hips limits Alshon Jeffery's ability to run clean and crisp routes. He's unable to stop and cut quickly, which results in rounded routes. This allows the defender to quickly identify the play and get a good jump on the ball. Those stiff hips also force him to gear down before he makes his cut, which often tips off the route.
Jeffery also lacks the quick-twitch ability to quickly burst out of his route. This lack of explosiveness limits his ability to create separation. The inability to cleanly break his routes and create separation will result in a lot of contested passes.
Some of Jeffery's route-running issues also occur because of some laziness. He doesn't always appear to be committed to running a crisp route.
Out of the other highly-rated wide receiver prospects, Alshon Jeffery has the largest hands at 10.25". His massive hands allow him to pluck the football out of the air. Jeffery's hand size is only one of the things that makes him a reliable target.
He also does a good job remaining focused on the football, watching it all the way into this hands. Jeffery rarely lets the ball get into his body, which helps him keep balls from bouncing off his chest. Possessing proper technique is a very important skill for every receiver.
Jeffery's size and leaping ability also contribute to how he catches the football. Being in the right position can determine the success of a pass.
Categorizing Alshon Jeffery's maturity issues as "character concerns" might be a little harsh. However, there are legitimate concerns surrounding his ability to adjust to life in the NFL. It's been public knowledge that Jeffery struggled controlling his weight throughout college, bringing his commitment into question.
Then there's his ejection from the 2012 Capital One Bowl for fighting with Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard. His decision to partake in the altercation could have cost his team the football game. At the time of his ejection, Jeffery had dominated the game, registering four receptions, 148 yards and a touchdown.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller feels that Jeffery's maturity concerns are overblown compared to the off-field issues of other top receivers like Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Notre Dame's Michael Floyd.