Justin Jefferson entered the NFL scouting combine on the fringe of being a first-round draft pick, and the former LSU wide receiver's 4.43 40-yard dash in the event has "cemented" him as a Day One selection, according to ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.
McShay initially had Jefferson pegged as the No. 30 overall pick by the Green Bay Packers, but, in his most recent mock draft, McShay bumped Jefferson to a No. 21 selection by the Philadelphia Eagles, surpassing Clemson's Tee Higgins as the fourth receiver taken in the NFL draft.
Was it the 40-yard dash time?
"It absolutely helps," McShay told The Advocate in a conference call Tuesday morning.
The 4.43 time tied Jefferson for the ninth-best of all receivers who participated in the drill, tied with Boise State's John Hightower; but the speed showed Jefferson was in the upper echelon of NFL talent.
McShay said the average 40-yard dash time of wide receivers in the NFL scouting combine the past five years is 4.54 seconds.
It was a substantial boost for Jefferson to sneak under that time: He already impressed scouts with his performance in 2019, when he caught a school-record 102 receptions, which produced 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Jefferson also set College Football Playoff semifinal records for receptions (14), receiving yards (227) and receiving touchdowns (4).
"I just love him on contested catches," McShay said. "That's where he's at his best. And so, to know that he has the speed to create after the catch and to get down the field, but then also having the tape to back up what he's able to do when the ball's in the air — I think he's a really good player. I think he's one of the more underrated receivers in what is shaping up to be one of the best wide receiver groups we've seen in a couple decades."
Todd McShay's Mock Draft wide receiver selections
11. New York Jets: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
12. Las Vegas Raiders: CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
15. Denver Broncos: Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Justin Jefferson, LSU
22. Buffalo Bills: Tee Higgins, Clemson
24. New Orleans Saints: Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
30. Green Bay Packers: KJ Hamler, Penn State