As names went by on the ticker of the 2021 NFL Draft broadcast, Jermar Jefferson was getting stressed. He had entered the weekend hoping to hear his name called on Day 2—somewhere in the third or fourth-round range—but now the draft was into the final dozen picks, and he still hadn’t heard his name called.
“It was a little frustration,” Jefferson told media after the draft. “I thought I was going to go in the earlier rounds, but obviously that didn’t happen.”
It got to a point where he had come to terms that he wasn’t going to get drafted and was mentally preparing for the hectic undrafted free agency process. But then at Pick 257, three before the end of the draft, the Detroit Lions came calling. It was a weight off his shoulders.
“I have to give it up to God for real because I was down throughout the whole process, but I’m grateful for now and that I got picked by the Lions, so it’s great,” Jefferson said.
Now Jefferson has a chance to make the Detroit Lions roster. Detroit entered the draft with only three running backs on the roster, offering at least one place on the final 53-man roster for a high-ceiling back like Jefferson.
"He's going to get picked up by a zone team and he'll rush for 900 yards and seven touchdowns by his second year in the league. Mark it down." -- West Coast scout for NFC team on Jermar Jefferson via https://t.co/UZkOHgJU3s— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) May 1, 2021
Jefferson doesn’t have a clear idea of why he fell so far below his own expectations, but he hasn’t lost any confidence in his ability.
“I don’t know what teams were missing or what I didn’t have, but I felt like I was the best running back in the Pac-12, so...”
For what it’s worth, in 2020 Jefferson finished second in the Pac-12 in rushing yards (858), second in rushing touchdown (seven) and fourth in yards per carry (6.5, *minimum 50 carries). He was named to the All-Pac 12 First Team.
Because he fell so far in the draft, Jefferson is coming into the NFL with something to prove. And he’s taking the field with some anger in his heart.
“Oh, really angry,” Jefferson said. “I’ve been in this position before. All my life I’ve been underrated. I went to a low-tier college, wasn’t recruited by any good high schools or anything, went to a low-tier college, like I said before. Again, in the seventh round. But, hey, I’m going to show the world. I’m going to shock the world. Just know the Detroit Lions are getting everything out of me. Everything.”