The Los Angeles Rams had high hopes for wide receiver Van Jefferson following his selection in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Despite showing plenty of promise during the offseason, Jefferson struggled to make a significant impact as a rookie. L.A. then did what it could to bolster the receiving corps with the arrival of quarterback Matthew Stafford by adding a couple of speedsters in DeSean Jackson and Tutu Atwell.
Although this may be a crowded group, Jefferson has officially etched out a role as the No. 3 option in the passing game behind Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. His efforts during the 28-19 victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 7 only helped solidify the increase in snaps in the eyes of head coach Sean McVay.
McVay shared some high praise for Jefferson’s development and contributions so far in Year 2, via Stu Jackson of the team’s official website:
“I think he’s really worked hard,” McVay said. “You can see he’s a really conscientious player, but understand how to work edges on guys versus bump, aggressively attacking the football and then really just having an ownership of the system, the things that we’re trying to get done, where he fits within the framework of the different concepts, and it’s getting better and better.”
There was some speculation regarding how Jefferson would fit on the pecking order of this revamped offense. Not only did Stafford have the duo of Kupp and Woods to rely on, the presence of Jackson, Atwell and Tyler Higbee left plenty of mouths to feed for McVay.
It has since become evident which players have earned the trust of their new gunslinger under center. Jefferson needed just seven games to surpass his rookie numbers with 21 receptions for 304 yards and three touchdowns.
The 25-yer-old put together one of his best performances of the 2021 NFL season versus the Lions by hauling in four catches on seven targets for 43 yards and a touchdown while playing 94% of the snaps on offense. He even helped Kupp secure his first touchdown of the game near the end of the first half by screening his defender.
The increase in snaps for Jefferson is a direct result of McVay relying on 11 personnel more often now that tight end Johnny Mundt is on injured reserve. As solid as he has been, the same cannot be said of Jackson and Atwell given their lack of production so far this season.