What Is Weighing Down Alshon Jeffery’s Draft Stock?

Story posted February 14, 2012 in

Photo prospectfeature abbott alshonjeffery
Jeffery, on the left, appeared in this mobile phone photo looking a little overweight.

Former University of South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery decided to forgo his senior season just three days after an MVP performance in the 2012 Capital One Bowl. Jeffery capped off his preseason All-American campaign with 148 receiving yards on four catches and one touchdown en route to his team's 30-13 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

After helping to lead the Gamecocks to a school-record 11 wins in 2011, Jeffery turns his sights on the NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4, 229-pound receiver brings a unique blend of size, speed and quickness with him, which is what makes him such a coveted prospect. He joins a deep crop of talented receivers, and will have to excel at the NFL Combine in order to solidify a first round grade.

The “biggest” question remaining for Jeffery is whether he can keep his weight down. Entering the 2011 season, a Sports Illustrated cover revealed some extra baggage being carried by the star wide-out. Despite being lauded for his strong work ethic, the cover quickly sparked questions about his conditioning and speed.

Despite some lofty expectations entering his junior season, Jeffery failed to live up to the hype and finished second-team All-SEC. Although he was still honored for his performance, Jeffery saw his production decrease by 39 receptions and 755 receiving yards in his final season before declaring for the NFL Draft.

Jeffery has a near identical physical makeup to current New Orleans Saints receiver Marques Colston. The Saints’ big threat weighs in at 225-pounds, just four pounds less than the SEC product. San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson is listed as an inch taller than Jeffery and a pound heavier. If Jeffery can enter the NFL and find similar success like these big men at their position, then he can put the naysayers in their place.

However, there are always weight concerns with larger receivers. It seems relatively easier for them to pack on unnecessary pounds, which can result in losing a step and decreased quickness. Route running, quickness, and straight-line speed are essentials for all NFL-caliber receivers. Despite possessing great size, Jeffery needs to continue improving his conditioning and watch his weight.

Jeffery took a risk leaving school early, especially after a disappointing season in terms of expectations. All too often, large receivers leave school early because they have the size to compete in the NFL, but they do not have the polished skill set they could’ve acquired in college.

One popular name that comes up in this discussion is that of former University of Southern California wide receiver Mike Williams. The former Trojan star attempted to leave school for the NFL after his sophomore season. However, the NCAA requires three years of school after high school before being eligible to leave for the draft. Williams had to sit out the 2004 season after being handcuffed by his inability to return to school due to declaring for the draft. In 2005, the Detroit Lions drafted Williams 10th overall despite needing to shake off the rust and a few added pounds.

Standing 6-foot-5, Williams, who admitted to playing around 240-pounds, was hampered by lack of activity. He was ushered out of the league after a horrible 2007 campaign with the Oakland Raiders. After two years of refocusing and controlling his weight, Williams made a comeback with the Seattle Seahawks and has flourished.

Although Jeffery does not have to sit out before entering the NFL Draft, he will have to watch his weight before his Pro Day and the NFL Combine. The downtime after the bowl game will define who Jeffery will be when he enters the league, and whether he is committed to controlling his weight.

The potential is limitless for the former SEC star as he eyes the first round in the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft. Many projections have Jeffery currently slotted in the late first round range. In order for these predictions to come true, Jeffery will have to improve his route running, explosiveness, and overall 40-yard dash time. If the Gamecocks all-time leader in receiving yards, with 3,042, can prove to scouts his weaknesses can become strengths, “big” things will be on the horizon for Jeffery.


Jared Abbott is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Psychology. To contact him, email: jda5104@psu.edu.