The Los Angeles Rams managed to revamp their passing game ahead of the 2021 NFL season with the arrival of quarterback Matthew Stafford. Although he is already supported by a receiving corps led by Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, it remains to be seen if Van Jefferson can step up as the new No. 3 option.
The Rams had high hopes for Jefferson after taking him in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He boasts an impressive pedigree as the son of Arizona Cardinals receivers coach Shawn Jefferson and the praise he received from cornerback Jalen Ramsey throughout training camp indicated they had found another gem for this group.
However, the Florida product struggled to fit the billing as a rookie after finishing the season with just 19 receptions for 220 receiving yards and a touchdown while logging his fair share of snaps on special teams. Despite the underwhelming start, he is still optimistic about his development going into Year 2.
Jefferson provided some flashes of promise during his first year in the league, but was unable to show much consistency. While things did not exactly go as planned from a production standpoint, he feels the experience he gained will pay some dividends this time around, via Sarina Morales of the team’s official website:
My first year in the NFL was a learning experience. I feel as if I learned a lot of things that will help me in year two. I expected a lot more out of myself, but everything is all about timing and being ready. Overall, I thought it was good, but a lot of room for improvement.
Jefferson certainly has good reason to be optimistic given how well his skill set as a polished route-runner and potential deep threat fits into this scheme for head coach Sean McVay. The onus will fall on him and the coaching staff to find a way to make it translate as soon as possible.
The Rams added a proven speedster to the mix in the form of wide receiver DeSean Jackson this offseason. This means there will be no shortage of weapons for Stafford to work with between Jackson, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and tight end Tyler Higbee.
Jefferson must what he can to establish himself as a viable option in the passing game or risk being left as the odd man out. He will need to prove that he is also capable of taking the lid off the defense after averaging a mere 11.6 yards per reception on 31 targets if he hopes to fend off Jackson as the No. 3 behind Woods and Kupp.