Who is the 6-foot-3-inch and 240 pound Malik Jefferson?
Malik Jefferson LOOKS like an NFL linebacker and has the athleticism to match. Declaring for the draft as a junior, he checks in at 6'3 and 240, and most scouts feel he has the ability to add another 10-15 pounds and carry it well. He also has the awards to go with the look, having won the Butkus Award as the nations top high school linebacker and being named second-team All-American honors at the University of Texas. His combine numbers were everything you would like to see, including a 4.52 forty-yard dash--faster than some wide receivers--and 27 reps in the bench press. Although he was a very good linebacker with the Longhorns, there are those who actually feel he underachieved given his outstanding athletic ability. Even so, if you could build an NFL linebacker, there is a good chance that linebacker would resemble Malik Jefferson.
Malik Jefferson Highlights
In terms of size, speed and strength, you couldn't ask for a lot more, and as I mentioned before, he probably could bulk up a little more to play inside if that is what is needed. Jefferson has enough speed to cover for mistakes and to run down ball carriers. He has natural, fluid hips and transitions easily into coverage. Jefferson is certainly capable of covering most NFL tight ends and running backs, and has the speed and quickness to blitz effectively. He is also a capable run defender. This guy has all the physical attributes of a very good to possibly even great NFL linebacker.
For all of his positive athletic abilities, there are questions that stems around his production on the field wasn't even better than it was, given his physical gifts. Some feel he lacks great football instincts, and while he can hit people, he doesn't have the kind of ''headhunter" reputation that puts the fear into opposing offenses. In terms of mechanics, he tends to let opposing players get low on him and win the leverage battle, which may explain why he doesn't shed blocks as well as you would like. Some scouts feel Jefferson is better suited to a 4-3 defense as opposed to a 3-4, and that he is at his best when he doesn't have to ''read and react" to an offense.
Is he a fit for the Rams?
Yes. There is some question about whether he will be there by the time the Rams have their first pick in the draft in the third round [barring a trade]. While there are questions about his instincts and mental makeup, this is a guy that Wade Phillips could probably use very effectively.
Jordan Hicks, Philadelphia Eagles