Reason I: He is just getting better
One of the vital pieces to assess any young NFL receiver’s future is to track the data trend. Ideally, you should see significant improvement from their rookie season in year two. I like to see a doubling of rookie production. That indicates that the player is not only producing more but that they have earned more playing time in the eyes of the coaching staff.
That was certainly the case of Van Jefferson, whose production skyrocketed after a lackluster rookie season. Jefferson jumped from 19 of 31, 220 yards, and one touchdown, up to 50 of 89 for 802 yards and six touchdowns. That’s quite a spike and is one of the reasons that the Rams were that much more successful in 2021.
Room to grow
It’s not the end of the line, though. Jefferson’s jump was about bumps in playing time, offensive snaps, and targets. He dramatically increased his yards per reception – from 11.6 YPR to 16.0 YPR. Of course, deeper passes will hurt accuracy and catch rates, and Jefferson was no exception. He regressed from a catch rate of 61.3 percent in 2020 to just 56.2 percent in 2021.
But now, in year three, he seems very much in a position to break 1000 yards receiving. And he can do that with his 2021 workload, by simply improving his catch rate. If he is targeted 95 times in 2022, improves his catch rate to 67.5 percent, and maintains his 2021 average of 16 yards per reception, Van Jefferson will end 2022 with 1026 receiving yards. It’s no great stretch of the imagination to get him there.