Tony Jefferson is just one of many safeties in the 2013 NFL draft who will hold tremendous value after the initial two rounds. This particular year represents one of the deepest at both free and strong safety in recent memory.
For his part, Jefferson has the pedigree and past success to be one of the biggest mid-round steals at safety in the annual event.
Let's take a look at five things you simply must know about the talented defensive back.
Full Name: Tony Jefferson
Date of Birth: January 27, 1992
Hometown: Chula Vista, California
High School: Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, CA
Major: Multidisciplinary Studies
Jefferson was a 4-star recruit (per Scout.com) coming out of Southern California in 2009. He ranked ninth nationally among outside linebackers. He also visited with Michigan and USC before deciding to sign a letter of intent with Oklahoma.
His final grade point average at Eastlake High School in California was a 3.0 with a 1400 SAT score.
Jefferson has planned for life after football. Interestingly enough, those plans include a life in the broadcast booth. The Sooner product had the following to say in an interview with PigskinHeaven.com:
With my major, I want to go into communications and be a broadcaster. I love being in front of the camera, love talking on the radio, so I have the voice and the face to do so and the smile.
For those of us in the field of journalism, it's nice to hear an athlete who is about to go pro respecting our profession enough to want to join it.
2010 (Freshman): 14 games, 65 tackles, 44 solo, seven passes broken up, two interceptions, two sacks and one touchdown.
2011 (Sophomore): 13 games, 74 tackles, 52 solo, three passes broken up, four interceptions, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
2012 (Junior): 13 games, 119 tackles, 90 solo, three passes broken up and two interceptions.
Jefferson was named a Second Team All American by the Associated Press following a dynamic senior season. He ranked second in the Big 12 with 119 tackles and first in solo tackles.
Prior to a standout performance as a senior, Jefferson jumped onto the scene as a wide-eyed freshman in Norman. He was the conference Defensive Freshman of the Year. He also recorded his first collegiate touchdown on a 22-yard interception return in the Fiesta Bowl against Connecticut in a resounding 48-20 Oklahoma win.
The past success and pedigree are most definitely here.
All statistics provided by CFBStats.com.
Weight: 213 lbs.
Arm Length: 31.625"
Hand Size: 9.25"
Note: Did not participate in most of the generic drills
40-Yard Dash: 4.75
Bench Press: 16 reps at 225 lbs.
Jefferson's performance, or lack thereof, left a lot to be desired at the combine. He didn't compete in most of the generic drills, but in the ones that he did, his performance was mediocre.
He finished second-to-last among safeties with a 4.75 40-yard dash, which demonstrates that the Oklahoma product is strictly a strong safety prospect at the next level. In addition, Jefferson's 17 bench press reps were far below the pacesetters at that position.
This means little for a defensive back.
I was, however, disappointed in his position-specific drills. He showed a lack of fluidity in coverage and failed to impress on his backpedal. These are two things that should concern scouts.
Jefferson did not run the 40 at Oklahoma's pro day, but put up a decent 4.18 time in the 20-yard shuttle (per nfldraftscout.com). Again, this would have ranked him in the middle at the combine.
This young defensive back was looking to push himself into the conversation for a second-round look following his senior season, but his performance seemed to make that a dramatic long shot at this point.
All measurements and combine results provided by NFL.com.
Jefferson played both running back and outside linebacker at Eastlake High School. He rushed for nearly 1,328 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2008 as a junior while recording 88 tackles and four sacks on the defensive side of the ball that very same season (via Soonersports.com).
His father Tony Sr, was an Olympic boxer who nearly made the U.S. team in 1992 with the likes of Oscar de la Hoya and Shane Mosley. When asked about his son's interest in boxing, the elder Jefferson responded (per SoonerSpectator.com):
"At one point, he did want to stop playing football for a while and wanted to start concentrating on boxing,” the elder Jefferson said of his son. “But I knew that boxing required a lot more time, and I knew what his gift was. I knew it was mainly more in football than in boxing. But I wanted him to make that decision. So as life went on, he got interested in boxing, but after a while, I talked to him about where his gifts lie, and (how) he had a much better chance at football."
That was indeed a great choice.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com had an interesting take on Jefferson after watching film: "Tony Jefferson met Tavon Austin in the hole multiple times and failed to get a glove on him. That's a tough assignment." While this isn't abnormal going up against Tavon Austin, it should be a bit of a worry
There is some concern over Jefferson's tackling ability, which really does worry me considering he translates best as a strong safety in the National Football League.
Top-of-the-line players at that position are expected to wrap up and take down the ball-carrier. Jefferson struggled with this at times in college.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller responded to claims about Jefferson's perceived lack of worth ethic: "I've talked to coaches, scouts and trainers. Everything I've heard is that Tony Jefferson is a hard working leader. Period."
Personally, I see Jefferson fly around the field with passion and excitement for the game. He doesn't struggle with taking plays off. This won't be an issue in the NFL.
Vincent Frank is an NFL featured columnist here at Bleacher Report. Vincent is the head sports editor over at eDraft, co-host of Draft Sports Radio, which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. ET and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus.
Go ahead and give him a follow on Twitter @VincentFrankNFL.