MALIK JEFFERSON | LB | TEXAS
Height: 6022 | Weight: 236 | Arm: 32" | Hand: 9 5/8" | 40 Time: 4.52 | 10-Split: 1.59 | Bench: 27 | Broad: 125" | Vertical: 36"
Malik Jefferson is a third-year Junior “Rover” Linebacker who was used as a dynamic chess in Todd Orlando’s defense, lining up on the LOS as a rusher, as a MIKE and even as an off-the-ball WILL on nay given play. The 2017 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and Second-Team All-American finished 3rd in the Big 12 with 110 tackles and has started 29 of 33 career games for the Longhorns. Per PFF, Jefferson has registered 63 tackles and 13 missed tackles on 355 run snaps for a 12.7% stop percentage, which was 13th highest of linebackers in this class. Jefferson additionally notched 21 pressures and 6 sacks on 126 pass rush snaps, showing his ability as a blitzer.
Jefferson has a lean, cut frame, rocked-up arms, and overall a prototype body for an NFL Linebacker. Jefferson flashes special range, straight-line speed, acceleration, foot speed, and coordination, although he shows a tendency to be over-reliant on his athleticism and his instincts haven’t quite married up with his athletic ability to become the full package as a prospect.
Jefferson shows great pre-snap situational awareness and is the chief communicator responsible for aligning and adjusting the defense before the snap. Post-snap, Jefferson shows solid ability to read and react, but has a tendency to get fooled on read options and has shown a pattern of abandoning his run fits to chase the big splash play. Jefferson is a great tackler and outstanding finisher when the runner gets bottled up on first contact in traffic and he has a clear angle. Jefferson displays patience in the open field and uses his special balance and COD to mirror ball carriers and limit yards after contact. Stamina will be a question for Jefferson, as his effort will begin to deteriorate as the game progresses. In Man coverage, Jefferson wins with his athleticism and hip fluidity to mirror WRs from the Slot and stay with them stride for stride and consistently turn and find the football. In Zone coverage, Jefferson demonstrates outstanding anticipation in his drops and will be an asset in Nickel situations at the NFL level. In the run game, Jefferson gets washed out frequently at the POA and his difficulty maneuvering through traffic and volume leaves something to be desired. Jefferson operates best when he can isolate blockers in 1v1 situations and use leverage to stack and shed to find the ball carrier. Jefferson has special range and his rare athletic ability allows him to be a sideline-to-sideline player. As a blitzer, Jefferson lacks the bend and technique when rushing around the perimeter and most of his production comes from attacking the B gap with timing and execution.
Jefferson is described as a quiet leader and volunteers to play special teams in punt coverage despite being a blue chip player, showing a selfless, team-first attitude. Jefferson is described by his coaches as a quiet leader and has had no documented issues with law enforcement or rule violations. Jefferson did miss his final bowl game due to a sprained toe and missed one game in 2016 for a concussion. Malik Jefferson compares in body type and style of play to Nigel Bradham and will be most effective as an off-the-ball Will linebacker where he can run and hit in space. Jefferson projects as a fringe first round prospect due to his rare athletic ability, size, and range.
Overall Grade: 82
Athletic Ability: 6
Play Strength: 5
Play Speed: 6
Competitive Toughness: 7
Hit Power: 4
Man Coverage: 4
Zone Coverage: 4
Ball Hawking: 3
Block Shedding: 3
Gap Discipline: 3
Player Comparison: Nigel Bradham
Projected Round: Early Round 2
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