Photo of Tony Jefferson
Grade
73.2 ?
  • 4.75 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 16 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 5'11" Height
  • 31 5/8" Arm Length
  • 213LBS. Weight
  • 9 1/4" Hands

Overview

Jefferson will not meet all NFL teams’ size requirements for the safety position, but they overlook him at their own risk. The success of pro safeties with similar measurements like Jairus Byrd, Troy Polamalu, T.J. Ward, and Donte Whitner will undoubtedly help Oklahoma’s strong and athletic defender get his chance as an early selection at the next level.



His lack of height obviously didn’t turn off major college programs from chasing Jefferson, a top-100 prospect out of California. It also didn’t keep him off the field for the Sooners in his first year on campus, as he started nine contests as an extra defensive back and earned the Big 12’s Defensive Freshman of the Year award with 65 tackles, seven for loss, seven pass break-ups and two interceptions –- one which he returned for a 22-yard touchdown against Connecticut in the team’s Fiesta Bowl victory. Jefferson’s role only got bigger as a sophomore, as he started 12 games (played sparingly vs. Texas A&M with a right knee injury), making plays near the line against the run and as a blitzer (74 tackles, 7.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks) while also leading the team with four interceptions (three coming against Ball State). He was an honorable mention All-Big 12 pick (coaches, media) in 2011. In his junior season, Jefferson recorded 119 tackles, two interceptions, and three passes defended. He was named a second-team AP All-American for his efforts.

Analysis

Strengths

Athletic, tough-minded safety. Plays all over the field, in a stack, on slot receivers, and single-high. Can lay the wood. Explosive blitzer who times his start well and brings pop as a tackler. Discards poor blocking attempts by fullbacks and receivers with hands and tenacity to make a play on the ball. Maintains outside leverage when playing containment responsibilities to force run plays inside. Good ball skills, follows receivers’ eyes in man or keeps his in the backfield in zone to break on passes. Flashes the hands to make the one-handed grab and is competitive in 50/50 and jump ball situations. Covers running backs on wheel routes adeptly, and can take away safety valve routes from slot receivers. Should be a special teams force early in his career due to his aggressive nature, speed, and tackling ability. Infectious attitude that helps him be a team leader.

Weaknesses

Short and lacks the ideal bulk for a NFL defensive back. Does not have elite speed, will fall behind better slot receivers on crosses if unable to get a hand on them off the line. Stays high in his backpedal and will stop his feet when lined up off the slot, receivers can eat up cushion. Linemen and tight ends use their superior size and length to engulf him in the run game. Poor tackling technique, will launch himself or dive at ball carriers, resulting in missed tackles.

NFL Comparison

T.J. Ward

Bottom Line

Though shorter than most top safety prospects, Jefferson’s leadership skills, physicality around the line of scrimmage and his coverage skills will entice teams to pick him early in the 2013 draft.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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