With Joe Burrow looking like a lock for the number one overall pick for the Cincinnati Bengals, a lot of fans would like Burrow’s college teammate Justin Jefferson to be the pick at 33.
Justin Jefferson is a very talented receiver and could be available at pick #33 due to the loaded wide receiver talent in the 2020 NFL Draft. With the Cincinnati Bengals potentially parting ways with star receiver AJ Green, help at receiver might need to be addressed this offseason.
Jefferson’s chemistry with Joe Burrow throwing to him could be a huge advantage for the Bengals should they decide to draft both players. Jefferson lead the nation in receptions this season with 111, and was top three in receiving yards (1,540) and receiving touchdowns (18). Justin Jefferson was Joe Burrows number one choice, and bringing that connection to Cincinnati would improve the Bengals offense immediately.
Here’s a look at some strengths and weaknesses I see in Jefferson.
At 6’3, Jefferson has mismatch height and length, his size mixed with his speed can make him a dangerous receiver in the NFL. Jefferson tracks and high points balls well (great leaping ability), and his route running and great hands make him a reliable target. He’s a player that can be targeted on critical third downs and in the red zone that will be trusted to make plays. He has been exceptional on slants and back shoulder fades this season. I think he pairs well with Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate. Jefferson can get open in the middle of the field to get solid chunks of yards, and with defenders having to worry about Boyd out of the slot, we could still see those middle of the field targets in the NFL. Overall, his connection with Burrow and his ability to succeed in an offense alongside Boyd and the rest of the Bengals receiving core can make him a great pick at 33.
While he has solid speed, I don’t think he has breakaway speed on deep routes. Even though he lacks some of that deep speed, the Bengals have John Ross, so there isn’t much of a need for it. He sometimes struggles to get separation at the line of scrimmage, and that could translate to the next level. I see him as a natural number two receiver, and even though he leads LSU in receptions, the opponent’s top corner was typically guarding number one receiver, Ja’Marr Chase.
In summary, Jefferson makes up for his lack of elite speed with solid route running and great hands. With a rookie quarterback, a receiver that isn’t a liability dropping the football can make a huge difference.
In my opinion, I would be most comfortable taking a receiver at pick 33 if a couple of things happen first. If the Bengals lose Green, this pick makes a lot more sense. But, an even bigger factor for me is if Cincinnati addresses the offensive line and linebackers in free agency. Even though I really like Justin Jefferson, I would be a lot more comfortable selecting him if we upgraded those areas first.