What the Bills Need:
The wide receiver position is a major spot that fans and the front office agree needs improvement. This season, we saw a good amount of production from this group, but the receiving core is missing bigger body guys to add physicality. This draft is loaded with talent in this position group. Grabbing Florida receiver Van Jefferson could add depth and some size to this group. Jefferson had a great showing at the senior bowl practices and has really helped his draft stock in that short week.
Jefferson played wide receiver in Florida’s spread offense. He was used mainly on the outside but played some slot. Jefferson was mainly asked to run posts, go routes, curls, and slants in his offensive role. He has decent height at 6′ 1″ and has a solid frame weighing just under 200 pounds. He was a reliable target in Florida’s offense and offered a lot of playmaking ability.
Separation and Route Running:
Jefferson releases off the line with quickness and uses his agility to separate from receivers. He combines jab steps along with a variety of release directions to be unpredictable in his routes. Against zone coverage, he knows how to cut routes off underneath or above zones to settle down into open gaps. His route running ability is very technical, and he is patient when setting up defenders off breaks.
His ability to use double moves against man coverage is great and can create a ton of separation. The agility and change of direction he showed was a big reason why he found success while in Mobile.
Hands and RAC Ability:
In terms of this year’s wide receiver class, Jefferson’s catching ability isn’t crazy special, and he has an average catch radius. Throughout his career, he was a reliable target and didn’t drop many passes. He has good run after catch ability too. When he has the ball in his hands, he is shifty and can make defenders miss. He doesn’t have that top tier speed, but it’s good enough to outrun defenders.
We might see the Bills go and grab a receiver in the first round of this year’s draft, but with nine picks this year, it would be optimal to draft at least two receivers who can compete for spots on the roster. Jefferson could be a good target to go after in the mid-rounds of the draft due to his route running and also his special teams ability. He is a tough, high-motor player who could really help as a gunner as well as contribute to the receiving core. This type of versatility is valuable to Beane and the front office, so we could possibly see the addition of Jefferson. With such a stacked receiver group this year, it’s hard to tell where he’ll go in this year’s draft, but he definitely improved his stock down in Mobile.