2013 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Tony Jefferson

Career Recap: Jefferson has been a playmaker for the Sooners’ defense since his first day in Norman. He took the Big XII by storm as a freshman, becoming a starter and totaling 65 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, two sacks, two interceptions and seven passes broken up.

Jefferson was even better as a sophomore. He had 74 tackles, four picks, 4.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for a loss, three passes broken up and one forced fumble. Jefferson had a record-setting game with three interceptions against Ball State. He led Oklahoma in interceptions and was third in tackles.

Jefferson had a misdemeanor arrest in January of 2011 for interfering with the arrest of teammate Kenny Stills on suspicion of misdemeanor driving under the the influence.

2012 Season Outlook: Playing in the Big XII, Jefferson sees a lot of pass-happy offenses. He should more than have the opportunity to duplicate or exceed his interception total from 2011. Jefferson now has two years of experience, so nothing should surprise him in college football.

The most pro-talented offense that Jefferson will face the mid-November contest versus West Virginia. Quarterback Geno Smith and some speedy receivers will provide a nice test for the junior. Jefferson will see some other quality offenses in Texas Tech and TCU, but, overall, he has a relatively easy schedule without a game against a consensus first-round signal-caller.

Skill-Set Summary: There is a lot to like about Jefferson, and he is a great fit for the current trends in the NFL. Jefferson has the ability to play free safety or strong safety with the schematic flexibility for a zone- or man-coverage-based defense. He excels in all phases of the game. Jefferson’s standout trait is that he is extremely fast, possessing enough speed to blaze around the field like a cornerback.

Jefferson is a good wrap up tackler in the open field. He is constantly looking to lay a hard hit, but does a good job of maintaining ahold of ball-carriers. There are times when Jefferson throws his body around with reckless abandon. It is clear that he possesses excellent pursuit speed.

Not only does Jefferson use that to chase down backs and receivers, he is also a standout blitzer. Jefferson picks his lanes well and gets pressure on the quarterback even when he doesn’t record a sack.

In pass-coverage, Jefferson covers a lot of ground. He is a natural free safety who patrols the deep part of the field well. Jefferson doesn’t get caught out of position or take false steps. That makes him a real asset to his cornerbacks.

Jefferson picks up receivers running deep down the middle and has plenty of speed to get to the sideline. In the NFL, he should be very valuable to cover tight ends in man coverage. With Jefferson’ speed and aggressiveness, it would be surprising if some teams look at him at corner. He could play safety and slot cornerback to cause more confusion for offenses.

Jefferson is very decisive. He uses his instincts to get in position and fires into ball-carriers. That makes Jefferson very dangerous when he moves up into the box. Jefferson routinely blasts into the backfield to disrupt runs or blow up quick passes like bubble screens.

The biggest negative with the junior seems like it has been corrected. Jefferson looked a little too lean and slender for the NFL the past two seasons, but reportedly he is up to 212 pounds after being listed at 199 last year. That added weight will help him when taking on the bigger receivers and backs at the next level.

Reliable sources have told Walterfootball.com that Jefferson is a high-character individual and does not have off-the-field concerns. They say that he comes from a good family and is a positive locker-room presence. That will help Jefferson to ease any concerns of the minor incident regarding Stills in January 2011.

With the manner in which the NFL has evolved, Jefferson is a perfect fit at safety because of his rangy pass-coverage abilities. His flexibility will carry a big appeal with talent evaluators. He is a difference-maker and a regular generator of splash plays. Assuming Jefferson stays healthy, he will enter the NFL with three or four years as a starter with a lot of experience against pass-heavy offenses. Jefferson has a lot going for him entering the NFL.

2013 NFL Draft Expectations: Jefferson currently looks like a pick in the second half of the first round or early in the second round. If Jefferson has a big season generating turnovers, he could easily rise into the middle of the first round. The 2013 NFL Draft looks like it could have an excellent safety class, and Jefferson is in the mix to be the first selected.


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