Justin Jefferson got a late start on training for the combine. It was the price he paid for starring on the best team in college football, whose final game wasn't played until Jan. 13.
That was the Monday after the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs, and just six weeks before he had to report to Indianapolis. The 6-foot-1, 202-pound wide receiver from LSU knew exactly what scouts would be wondering once he got there.
"The whole question of the whole combine was whether I was going to be fast enough or whether I was going to get a good time in the 40," Jefferson said.
College football's leading receiver in 2019 said he ran in the late 4.4s while training for last week's main event. So when he posted a blazing 4.43 at the combine, it was a bit of a surprise to him -- and a seemingly much bigger, and more important, one to future employers.
It might have changed the perception of him as a bigger-bodied wideout.
"Definitely," Jefferson told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on the latest episode of the RapSheet and Friends podcast. "Everybody from each team thought I was going to run like a 4.5, 4.6., so just going out there and running that 4.4 and just showing the ability, that I have speed, is just (an) extra accessory to my game."
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah deemed the development "huge" for Jefferson's draft stock, perhaps cementing him in the first round. Jeremiah has Jefferson going No. 21 overall to the Philadelphia Eagles in his post-combine mock draft. Interestingly, the player Jeremiah compared Jefferson to -- the Chargers' Keenan Allen -- is one that the 21-year-old had already been studying.
"He's probably one of the players that I watch (most), especially because he's a dominant receiver," Jefferson said. "Just his releases off the line, his ability to come out his routes smoothly. ... We definitely have some similarities."
Allen, you might recall, slipped to the third round of the 2013 draft. No team come April will have that much time to decide on Jefferson.