Breaking Down Alshon Jeffery's Greatest Strengths, Weaknesses
The Bears took a gamble on the enigmatic young man out of South Carolina. Drafting Jeffery in the second round still garners a lot of questions and a big spotlight for both parties. Can he show people he's better than where he was drafted? Did the Bears make a mistake by not picking a receiver in the first round?
Right now Jeffery has done nothing but impress. He still has a long uphill battle to become a quality receiver in the NFL but he certainly looks to get there. As we spotlight the rookie, let's take a look at his biggest strengths and weaknesses.
In case you haven't realized, Alshon Jeffery is big. He is listed at 6'3'' 216lbs making him and Brandon Marshall two big targets the Bears have lacked through the years.
Jeffery will tower and outweigh the average defensive back in the NFL. His length will give him a huge advantage in the red zone where the field shrinks and quarterbacks are forced to put passes in areas where only their receivers can get to them. Jeffery should be able to excel in his career as a big-time scoring target.
Along with the height, Jeffery's size plays a big role in catching tough passes. Having the ability to shield off defenders with his body will be a great tool. Tough third-down plays over the middle can be made by Jeffery just by being more physical than the smaller defenders he will encounter.
Weakness: Footwork and Route Running
There is no doubt about Alshon Jeffery's big-play potential. He was a standout receiver at South Carolina who was so much better than his competition he didn't have to rely on too much technical skills to succeed. The NFL will change that.
Jeffery has looked strong in camp thus far, but he still needs help and experience in route running and footwork. It is not out of the ordinary for a rookie receiver to not be sharp in this area. These are special skills that are honed through practice, watching film and execution on game day.
Right now Jeffery has an issue getting off the jam. Defensive backs are able to hit him at the line of scrimmage because his footwork is not up to NFL quality yet. This slows his routes causing the quarterback to look in another direction as time runs out.
As Jeffery gains more experience and knowledge of the playbook his route running will improve. Like most rookies, he has a tendency to choreograph his next move and any veteran will be able to pick this up right away.
Expect early for the Bears to have a small package of plays for Jeffery. They will undoubtedly ease him and let him get accustomed to the league and its nuances before expanding his role. Jeffery has worked hard with the coaches and veterans so this transition could be quick.
What has always stood out about Alshon Jeffery is his ability to catch the football. He has always been able to make the routine catch as well as make a difficult one look easy.
Bears quarterback Josh McCown was in South Carolina in the offseason and was able to work out with the then newly drafted Jeffery. He gave the rookie high praise when he compared Jeffery to one of the league's best receivers. McCown said Jeffery is similar to Arizona Cardinals All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald when it comes to catching the football.
Over the last couple of seasons. the Bears have had an issue with receivers dropping the football. What could be Jeffery's biggest strength will be a welcome addition to Jay Cutler and the team. Trust is the first step towards a strong relationship between a quarterback and receiver; if Jeffery makes some tough catches early, he will be well on his way towards solidifying that relationship.
Weakness: Speed and Explosiveness
Alshon Jeffery is by no means is slow. He was clocked in the high 4.3's during his 40 time. He is, however, not the kind of receiver who will get to his top speed right out of the blocks.
Jeffery's style of running is a long stride. He will not beat defensive backs right away or explode off the line of scrimmage. If a pass is going to Jeffery down the field, it will most likely be on a jump ball situation and not because he beat the defender.
There are many receivers who fit this mold who are very good. It all depends on how the Bears use him. It becomes all the more important that he continue to use his size and catch balls in traffic to overcome not being able to explode down the field.
Jeffery has to look no further than his teammate Brandon Marshall as the kind of player he can be. Marshall also lacks explosiveness down the field but makes up for it in many other ways. Jeffery can still outsmart, out-muscle and out-jump his opponents week in and week out.
Strength: Work Ethic
There is one reason and one reason only why Alshon Jeffery is having a good camp. He has worked his tail off and done everything asked of him.
The knock on Jeffery out of college was he was diva receiver who couldn't stay in shape and didn't want to work hard. Since being with the Bears, he has been the complete opposite.
Jeffery started off on the right foot by signing his contract early and showing up to every OTA. Since training camp has started, he has stayed quiet, only focusing on the task at hand. He has been receptive to coaching and has latched on to Brandon Marshall for veteran guidance.
Jeffery seems to have a mission in his rookie season: prove to all those who passed on him that they made a mistake and show people who didn't think he could focus and just play football they were wrong. Jeffery wants to make an impact on the Bears this season, and he is doing all the right things to do just that.