FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS - SEPTEMBER 10: K.J. Jefferson #1 of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs the ball to the one yard line during the second half of a game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Gamecocks 44-30.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS - SEPTEMBER 10: K.J. Jefferson #1 of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs the ball to the one yard line during the second half of a game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Gamecocks 44-30. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

K.J. Jefferson Is Not Cam Newton 2.0

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K.J. Jefferson has received a lofty comparison to QB Cam Newton.

However, I see something much different on game film when I look at this Arkansas quarterback (QB).

I see a “poor man’s Daunte Culpepper,” the former QB for the Minnesota Vikings who couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn without acrobatic superstar receiver Randy Moss.

Moss could jump out of a gym, and trust me, Culpepper needed a receiver like him with that kind of wild catch radius to be able to come down with his passes.

Last season, Jefferson had Treylon Burks, another lanky receiver with an incredible ability to go up and highpoint the ball. Burks was a first-round pick by the Tennessee Titans this past draft.

Is there one word to describe Jefferson?

Raw.

He looks like an athlete trying to be a QB.

He’s one of these classic college QB’s who does not have the transferrable skill set at this point to be a winning starter in the NFL.

That’s not my opinion.

That’s what Jefferson put on game film in 2021.

Okay…what are the positives about Jefferson?

I’ll get into the specifics soon enough, but let me start by saying, of course there are positives about Jefferson.

There are positives about every prospect.

I like the steady improvement he has shown for the Razorbacks in terms of his completion percentage against college level competition.

Beyond that, Jefferson is a tough runner who may fit best into a two-QB system, like what New Orleans does with QB Taysom Hill.

What’s the big thing that’s holding Jefferson back?

It’s how long he holds the ball in the pocket.

I thought 49ers’ QB Trey Lance had a slow release, until I saw Jefferson throw.

He just stood there in the pocket, and he looked extremely hesitant to throw at times. It looked like he was having trouble making a decision to throw the ball.

This really showed up in the Georgia game.

#1 K.J. Jefferson 6-foot-3, 242 pounds

Daniel Kelly’s Grade: Undraftable Free Agent (UFA) Early Fall 2022 Report

First Round Mock Big Board: QB17

Projected by 0% of the NFL Draft Community to be a first-round pick as of September 13, 2022 (nflmockdraftdatabase.com)

2021 game film reviewed: Ole Miss, Auburn and Georgia (click to watch games viewed to form this evaluation)

Level of competition: High

2021 stats: 198/294 (67.3%) 2,676 (9.1 avg.), 21 TD, 4 INT.

NFL comparable: Spergon Wynn

2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report:

Athletic unorthodox option QB with running skills and an average arm. Showed good ball handling and play-action in the pocket. Tended to be hesitant to throw, which put him in position to run or take sacks (2021:27). Didn’t throw the ball away to avoid sacks. Raw looking throwing mechanics with an elongated motion. Can lock in with receivers and wait until they are open to deliver. Inconsistent ball placement at the short to intermediate route levels. Lacked zip on mid-range passes and the ball tended to sail high on him. Can get outside the box at times with a shovel or jump pass. A good and tough runner with decent playing speed. Best route range was deep when he can put air under his passes. His size and running ability are his best attributes. Developmental type of prospect who will end up on a practice squad.

What to watch for during the 2022 college football season:

  1. Does it look like he is holding the ball too long in the pocket?
  2. What does his downfield ball placement look like?
  3. How does his deep ball look now that Burks is gone?
  4. Is he throwing the ball away to avoid sacks?

How Jefferson answers these four questions will have much to do with where he ends up on draft boards around the league.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL Scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated New York Jets and he is the Editor-in-Chief for First Round Mock. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @firstroundmock.

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