Player Capsule: Ellis Jefferson
Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 210 pounds
2014 season quick review: A reserve who finished the season with 11 catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns, Jefferson served as as one of the backup options to Jaelen Strong.
2015 season quick review: Jefferson had 12 catches for 160 yards and no touchdowns. He didn't emerge as much as he hoped to with housemate Mike Bercovici as his quarterback.
SunDevilSource.com analysis: (07/2016) Heading into his fourth year in Tempe it's getting closer to now-or-never time for Jefferson, a player who looks the part and has the tools to be successful but hasn't been able to translate that to a lot of game reps or productivity. An an outside receiver, Jefferson is battling a few teammates for the spot opposite Cameron Smith, and there's some good young talent on the roster that will make for a competitive camp.
Jefferson has flashed when given opportunities but those have come primarily in blowouts and not early in closely contested games. His route integrity hasn't been consistent enough in a practice setting, and getting to the right depth and location on time on a day-to-day basis is what it's going to take to get Jefferson more opportunities to show the playmaking capability that exists when he's targeted.
Perhaps better than anyone on the roster, Jefferson can make contested catches when draped. This is due to his strength, big hands, and ability to secure the ball out away from his body when at the apex of his jump. Improving the routine play and route consistency is what's needed for Jefferson to be able to showcase his ample potential. Using his hands better and becoming more physical getting off the line of scrimmage and into his routes, and elevating his play as a blocker are also key components in Jefferson's skill development process.
(07/2015) Jefferson has had a tendency to come out of the gate with a full head of steam to start preseason and spring practices through two full years in Tempe only to sort of gradually peter out. Sustaining his level of energy and productivity even when worn down or banged up are going to be essential to Jefferson expanding his role and perhaps becoming a starter and heavily relied upon player for Arizona State.
From a pure talent standpoint, Jefferson is one of the best prospects at the position group on the ASU roster. He's 6-foot-4 and 211 pounds and makes a lot of plays on the football with his big hands extended out from his body. There really isn't a huge difference from Strong to Jefferson when looking at size, route running and athleticism, but Strong just was a big time playmaker and Jefferson is someone whose potential hints at that, but it's thus far unrealized.
Jefferson has to continue to get better at being physical enough at the line of scrimmage to ward off cornerbacks who try to get into him physically. He's too big for that, and has to use his length better and show more strength and violence against press and bump techniques. When he's able to get into his route more freely, Jefferson makes a lot of plays in practice. Against off coverage he is much better right now, but opponents know that too.
Projected depth chart status: ASU receivers coach Jay Norvell is looking for the best three players to put on the field together and two of those players, Cam Smith and Tim White, are pretty well locked into place. Jefferson is battling others to become the third guy, or at worst be in the next several players so he can get a lot of reps off the bench. He's going to have to beat out Jalen Harvey, Terrell Chatman and N'Keal Harry, among others, to become a starter.