The Detroit Lions went off in the 2021 NFL Draft. They got tons of athletic value that can help sustain the team for years to come. Then in the seventh round, with a pick they acquired from the Cleveland Browns, the Lions selected running back Jermar Jefferson from Oregon State.
Jefferson is a guy whose footwork in his highlight reel is going to get Lions fans excited about his potential. I know this moment really did it for me. Watch him stop on a dime, wait for the block, then take it the rest of the way home.
Witness the very moment I got excited about Jermar Jefferson. pic.twitter.com/qdIwlo5ZPM— Mike Payton (@POD_Payton) May 2, 2021
Besides this beautiful moment here, there is still so much more to learn about Jefferson. So we did what we always do when we want to know more about a player: We went to the guys that have been covering Jefferson for years, our friends over at Building The Dam, and Oregon State expert Marcus Russell gave some great information. Here’s what he had to say:
[Editor’s note: These questions were sent to Marcus prior to Kerryon Johnson being waived.]
1. What are your thoughts on Jefferson’s time at Oregon State?
“Jermar Jefferson will be remembered as a top-5 running back at Oregon State which is a school with a history of talented running backs (Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Ken Simonton, etc). When he signed with Oregon State, RB Ryan Nall (now with the Chicago Bears) had just left early for the NFL, and Artavis Pierce (also now with Bears) was expected to take over as the lead back. Instead, Pierce got injured early in the season and Jefferson stepped into the limelight and had one of the best true freshman seasons I’ve seen in college football. Just check out his stats, Jermar Jefferson was crazy productive in college and was always the focal point of Oregon State’s offense.”
2. What are his strengths?
“Jefferson is an old-school, one-cut type running back. He’s got incredible patience and timing. Jefferson will easily shed arm-tackles and rarely has a negative play. He’s not a huge bruiser, but he’s a physical runner that always falls forward. When Jefferson gets in a rhythm he’s unstoppable; he had multiple 200+ yard performances for the Beavers. Since his high school days, he’s had a chip on his shoulder when in-state schools like UCLA & USC decided to pass on him. Personally, I expected him to be drafted somewhere in the 3rd-to-5th round range and while he’s grateful for the opportunity I bet he’s determined as ever to prove the doubters wrong.”
3. What are his weaknesses?
“By NFL standards he’s not the fastest running back (4.55 in the 40-yard dash). He won’t wow you with his agility or explosiveness. Besides his speed, I’d say he’s below average as a pass-catcher. He’s not one of those 5-foot-7 running backs that also can spread out and play as a slot receiver. Jefferson also battled various nagging injuries in college, but nothing serious mostly rolled ankles.”
4. How do you see Jefferson fitting in on the Lions roster that already has three young running backs?
“Clearly the Lions like D’Andre Swift a lot. They also made a decent-sized investment to bring in Jamaal Williams as a free agent. Despite Kerryon Johnson leading the team in rushing a couple of times over the last few seasons, it seems like he might not be in the Lions' long-term plans. I’m not saying Jefferson is going to beat out Johnson for 3rd on the depth chart, but it wouldn’t shock me. At the very least Kerryon Johnson is going to have to fight like hell to keep his spot on the 53-man roster.”
5. Do you see Jefferson as a project?
“As one of the last picks in the 2021 draft there aren’t big expectations for Jermar Jefferson to be a day 1 starter, but I wouldn’t view Jefferson as a project. He needs to improve as a pass-catcher and I know he’s planning to contribute on special teams (not something he did at Oregon State). He just barely turned 21 and his best years are ahead of him, but in terms of running the football between the tackles he’s insanely talented.”