“Prototype” is the best word to describe Malik Jefferson when you first see him. He’s big and just an absolute freak athlete. It looks like he was made in a lab. Nicknamed “Predator”, Jefferson is an extremely physical specimen. He stands at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds of pure athlete. The former Texas linebacker’s play is in the mold of what many NFL teams are targeting at the position. I dive into what I see from Malik Jefferson as the NFL Combine is near.


– 2017 Second Team All American
– 2017 Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year
– 2017 First Team All-Big 12
– 2015 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year

Film Exposures

– Notre Dame (2016)
– USC (2017)
– Iowa State (2017)
– Oklahoma (2017)
– Kansas State (2017)

Positives: For his size, his speed and power do not match. Jefferson plays with the speed and quickness of a smaller player but has the bulk and physicality of a player his size. Style of play allows him to cover the entire field with ease. Speed allows him to get to the ball and his strength and physical nature allows him to make tackles against whoever stands in his way very easily. Quick on his feet, with smooth and clean straight line speed. Possesses the ability to play man coverage and his speed allows him to cover most running backs and tight ends. Blitzing is also a strong point for Jefferson. When asked to blitz, he does a great job at finding the football and recognizing his gap. Jefferson has an explosive first step. He also has the skillset to come up on the line and off the edge. His all-around versatility is without a doubt his best asset on tape. Has the versatility to play both in space or close to the line, and can recognize what’s in front of him regardless of his positioning.

Negatives: Jefferson’s effort on plays was lacking many times in the tape I watched. When he plays hard and gives effort, he is an absolute force. However, the plays he “took off”, for lack of a better term, could have ended differently had he gone 100%. Doesn’t always chase the play consistently in the run game, and will glide along the line of scrimmage rather than actually pick through traffic to get to the ball carrier. When asked to drop into coverage you see stiffness working in space. He plays with tight hips and sometimes changing direction is difficult. Block shedding ability is a big knock on Jefferson. He seems to have trouble fighting off bigger blockers by getting too stationary, tall and showing lack of strength. The fact he tries to work around the blocks does take him out of some plays. He relies heavily on his defensive linemen to open holes for him and create running lanes, where he can come up and make a tackle himself. His tackling could improve by not leaving his feet early against the outside run, and needs to improve angles. Doesn’t string pass rush moves together, and relies heavily on a bull rush to do damage when asked to get after the quarterback.

Outlook: Malik Jefferson is a very interesting prospect. At 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, he has NFL size and an NFL skillset. However, he has technique deficiencies and doesn’t play to his size. He needs to get stronger and continue to improve his ability to read and attack plays. He doesn’t necessarily have first-round tape or instincts. He’s more of a guesser, and when he guesses correctly, it looks phenomenal. However, when he guesses wrong, it led to big plays for the offense. There is plenty to like about Jefferson, and I expect him to test extremely well at the combine and during team interviews. His attacking mindset on the field is something NFL teams would want on their roster. But his draft value belongs more in the second or third round. Jefferson will need simplified reads to allow his best traits, being speed and aggressiveness, to shine. Jefferson has potential to be a starter in the NFL. I’d like to see him as a 3-4 ILB. That’ll entitle less responsibility in the passing game, but can primarily still be useful against the run. He can still be a 4-3 MIKE, but I’d like to see him play outside and once he has it down, he could become a full-time MIKE.

Grade: 3rd Round
Projection: Early-Mid 2nd Round

About The Author Gavino Borquez

Gavino is a die-hard LA Chargers fan. He played football and baseball in college, and accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Taft College. He later found that playing sports was no longer his forte and is currently working as a strength coach for high school athletes. Gavino resides in Phoenix, AZ and is attending Arizona State University. He has always had a passion for football and is looking forward to gaining experience and sharing his NFL Draft work for Breaking Football.