- QUOTE TO NOTE: "We feel that Alshon (Jeffery) has the best hands in the draft. We feel he is the best at adjusting to the ball. We feel he is the best sideline and end-zone catcher in the draft. He is dynamic with the ball in his hands. He is a big man, he's strong, he's tough, he doesn't go down without a fight. He is a good route runner for the routes that they put him in." -- Bears general manager Phil Emery on second-round pick (45th overall) Alshon Jeffery. - The Sports Xchange
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At about 230 pounds or more, Jeffery had a decent college career and appeared to have everything necessary to be a good pro receiver except natural speed to separate from defenders.
Since last season he tried to improve his speed by losing weight. However, when he showed up at the Scouting Combine weighing 216 pounds he chose not to work out, although he said he was "better, lighter."
He tried to prove it at his late March pro day where he showed some explosion with a 36 1/2-inch vertical jump and a 10-2 broad jump and was timed between 4.4 and 4.5 seconds in 40 yards. But his performance in lateral agility drills was only average and not smooth.
Before losing the weight Jeffery was reminiscent of Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Mike Williams, formerly of USC. But after being the 10th player taken in the 2005 draft (Detroit), Williams has been with four teams and is not an outstanding NFL receiver.
It is difficult to determine whether Jeffery helped or hurt himself by losing the weight because his functional speed still seems to be average. Like Williams, Jeffery looked great collecting his statistics against out-sized college defenders, including 179 career receptions for 2,894 yards (16.2 per catch) and 22 touchdowns.
Coach Steve Spurrier held him out of the opening play against Navy last season for what was described as a violation of team rules.
Release: Uses his size, good strength and a very effective jab step to quickly gain clearance against press corners. Doesn't possess elite straight-line speed, but can lull defenders asleep with his long-strides and sneak behind the coverage for the long ball.
Hands: Possesses a rare combination of hand-eye coordination, body control and hand strength. Can make the circus grab look easy and already has compiled an impressive number of dazzling one-handed grabs (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky). Good flexibility to extend and pluck the ball high and wide, as well as behind him. Tracks the ball well over either shoulder. Does have a tendency to let passes get into his chest too often and will drop more balls than he should due to the fact that he's trying to elude defenders before he has the pass secured. This appears to be simply a concentration issue as Jeffery has already demonstrated the natural pass-catching skills usually reserved for Pro Bowl receivers.
Route running: If there is an area of concern for scouts, this would be it. Many of Jeffery's routes in South Carolina's offense are relatively simple quick screens, slants, crossers and fades. He does not possess the elite speed, which may allow NFL cornerbacks to squat on underneath routes. He runs with good balance and is a developing route-runner, but isn't always capable of shaking off cornerbacks to gain real separation due to the fact that he lacks true explosiveness out of his cuts. When he is asked to run double moves, Jeffery often rounds off his cuts, gaining freedom more due to a series of shoulder fakes and adjusting his speeds, rather than exploding out of his breaks. To Jeffery's credit, his size and body control make him open even when he is effectively covered. He understands how to position himself in front of the defender and is remarkably effective in plucking the ball out of the air in jump-ball situations even when pitted against some of the top cornerbacks in the country (Alabama, Florida).
After the catch: A nightmare for most collegiate cornerbacks to handle once he gets the ball in his hands. While perhaps lacking in top-end speed, Jeffery has good acceleration for a receiver of his size and can expose cracks in the defense because of it. He has above average elusiveness when in the open field, as well. Where he'll make his money in the NFL, however, is because of his strength and balance. Jeffery often spins by, runs through or simply bounces his way out of prospective tackles and fights for additional yardage. He possesses a stiff arm that some running backs could take pointers from. At times when doing so, however, he allows the ball outside of his frame, exposing it for defenders to rip away from him (Florida State).
Blocking: A bit inconsistent in this area. Uses his size and strength to shield off defenders, helping his teammates with some big plays. Considering his physical tools, however, he isn't (yet) the dominator in this regard that he someday could be...
Intangibles: Originally committed to a different USC -- Southern California -- out of high school before switching back to his local Gamecocks. Was a key member of a Calhoun County high school basketball team that won four consecutive state titles.