The running back position is a trendy topic in the NFL today. Do running backs truly matter, or are they a dime in a dozen? The recent trend of the NFL has seen many late-round draft selections, or even undrafted players, including Aaron Jones and James Robinson, find roles on their respective teams. A player that could carve out a big role if he finds the right team is Oregon State’s, Jermar Jefferson. Jefferson has been one of the best running backs in the country during his three years for the Beavers. He has elected to enter the draft this season. Is he just another speedster, or is there more to his game? Let’s find out.
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Name: Jermar Jefferson
Position: Running Back
School: Oregon State
Weight: 215 lbs
His vision is the best part of his game. He’s patient. Jefferson allows his linemen to get their blocks lined up. He can easily find lanes to run through if they are open. Jefferson uses his patience to his advantage on most of the long runs he had during his time at Oregon State.
Change of Direction (9/10)
One-cut and go. Jefferson can shift from one direction to another in the blink of an eye. Jefferson is a change-of-pace back that, if he has a lane, he can cut back and go and turn the run into an enormous chunk of yardage.
Jefferson isn’t going to be a running back that gets 20 touches per game in the NFL. The most touches he had in one college season was during his freshman year, where he had 264 touches. Since then, Jefferson had 151 in an injury-plagued 2019 season and 142 in the shortened covid season. He will likely be a third-down back at the next level.
Receiving Skills (7.5/10)
He’s not going to be able to run routes from the slot very often, like Demetric Felton. Jefferson runs a lot of screens, angle, and wheel routes. He can turn a small check down into a 60-yard catch and run fairly easily.
Ball Security (7.75/10)
Jefferson didn’t put the ball on the turf once during his collegiate career. The main concern is how loosely he holds the ball. There were plenty of times where the tackler would have caused a fumble if he had been more aggressive. He seems to hold the ball with one arm, even when he’s about to be hit.
Jefferson can avoid defenders in a lot of space with a bit of wiggle. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of wiggle in open space, and he relies primarily on his speed to fly past defenders. He can make the first defender miss, but once met with defenders in his face off the line of scrimmage, he struggles.
Jefferson keeps his legs churning on every play. He struggles with power. Jefferson isn’t going to plow through linebackers at the second level like some others can in this class. He fights for every yard that he can snag.
Surprisingly, it seems as though Jefferson’s play speed is far faster than his 40-time listed. He is estimated to run a high 4.6 40 time when it looks as if he could run a high 4.4. Play speed is far more important than a 40 time. As a result, this grade is higher.
Good contact balance. Jefferson can shrug off shoulder and arm tackles fairly easily. As pointed out earlier, he isn’t going to have a large role early in his NFL career, and he won’t have 20 touches per game like he did at Oregon State.
Pass Protection (2.25/5)
Average. Jefferson throws some blocks, but he can also get run over by opposing pass-rushers and linebackers.
Ankle and foot injuries during the 2019 season lingered for most of the year.
Jefferson is likely a day three selection in the draft that will be a role player for whichever team selects him. He could carve out a bigger role with some more development. His best traits come via his vision and balance. If he can work on some elusiveness to make a man miss in the open field, he could become a dynamic running back at the next level, including a potential three-down skillset. He won’t be a back that will have the workload that some in the league like Derrick Henry have, as he doesn’t have the frame to withstand the continuous hits he’ll take. Jefferson is a player that not many know, but that could quickly change.
Final Grade (75.25/100): Early Fourth-Round