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Malik Jefferson is a fantastic athlete, but will that be enough in the NFL?

The Longhorns star has the athletic traits NFL teams look for

Texas v Baylor Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Malik Jefferson, LB
School: Texas | Conference: Big 12
College Experience: Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-3 / 240 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd - 3rd Round
NFL Comparison: Stephone Anthony

College Statistics

Player Summary

Highly recruited player out of high school that was supposed to turn Texas’ defense (and to some extent, program) around. Started as a true freshman and named to Freshman All-American team. Missed time with ankle injury and a concussion in true freshman and sophomore campaigns. Started every game in 2017 and his stats sharply increased under Tom Herman’s great coaching staff. Declared for the NFL draft as a true junior after being named second team All-American.


  • Ideal size and bulk for NFL linebacker and easily carries 240 lbs on 6-3 frame, could gain 10-15 pounds as he matures
  • Natural, fluid hips equates to plus lateral agility and easy backpedals into coverage. Has ability to cover tight ends and running backs
  • Great, rangy athlete that has the speed to cover large chunks of the field and make up ground in pursuit
  • Does damage blitzing up the A/B gaps, can close in on QB in a hurry from long range
  • Solid tackling mechanics and is frequently able to square up runners to get them on the ground


  • Will deliver a big hit but lacks the “killer instinct” of say a Rashaan Evans
  • Struggles to get off blocks from offensive linemen and is often washed out of the play
  • Only average instincts; less effective in coverage than he could be
  • Missing violence and waits at the second level for contact opposed to using his ability downhill


This is one of his top plays of the season. Shows great instincts here:

How He’d Fit on the Redskins

Malik Jefferson is going to be a good player in the NFL and can definitely help a team — particularly a 4-3 team like Miami, Dallas, or Philadelphia — with a weakness at linebacker. In my opinion he lacks the alpha dog mentality of an impact, game-changing defensive player even though his physical gifts are evident.

His size is adequate for a 3-4 middle linebacker, which is where the Redskins would need to play him, and he could play in a 3-4, but I don’t think that’s his ideal position. While it’s easy to get caught up in the pedigree and athletic traits — I’m sure he’ll blow up the Combine — the Redskins’ front office needs to look for intangibles like toughness, grit and nastiness at the linebacker position.

I’d take a guy like Leighton Vander Esch over Jefferson any day of the week, or wait and take Mike McCray in the later rounds.