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Scout questions Malik Jefferson, buzz builds for D.J. Chark

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Our analysts are constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. This week, NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein shares some of what NFL folks are saying about one of college football's most highly touted linebackers and a WR who could become one of the nation's biggest risers.

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The scoop: "I see Malik (Jefferson) and all of this hype around him as carry over from when he came in highly recruited. Where is the production? Where do you see him dominate games on tape? It's not on the tape yet." -- NFC scouting director

The skinny: The scouting director has a point. I looked at all of the data to check on Jefferson's production and the most glaring issue is his lack of tackles. Jefferson has good size and great athleticism, but managed just 121 tackles over his first two seasons. He has only one game in his career with double-digit tackles, and his "impact" production (game-changing plays like tackles for loss, fumbles forced and recovered, INTs) is very modest.

On tape, Jefferson is lacking in instincts and anticipation, which might explain why he has lower tackle numbers. On the flip side, Jefferson has 9 career sacks (all coming in his first two seasons) and if new defensive coordinator Todd Orlando can get Jefferson going, we could see him become a dangerous blitzer again. Regardless, Jefferson does need for his production and impact to more closely match his talent and athleticism. He'll have an opportunity to show out on a big stage Saturday night against Sam Darnold and USC.

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The scoop: LSU's hiring of offensive coordinator Matt Canada (previously at Pitt) after last season is already creating vertical opportunities for LSU WR D.J. Chark. Some in the scouting community believe he will fly up draft boards thanks to his speed and ability to return punts.

The skinny: I rated Chark the No. 6 WR to watch heading into the season, but that already seems to be too low, according to what I'm hearing from scouts. Chark has blazing speed and saw 8 of his 26 catches in 2016 go for 25 yards or more. Through two games this season, Chark is averaging 25.7 yards per catch (7 grabs for 180 yards) and returned two punts for touchdowns in last weekend's win over Chattanooga (although one was called back on a penalty). Matt Canada's offense allows for more frequent shots down the field off of play-action. With RB Derrius Guice forcing safeties to creep near the line of scrimmage for run support, Chark could be in for a big season and a trip up draft boards.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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