Is South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery Overrated?

This may anger some folks, especially Gamecock fans, but is Alshon Jeffery really worthy of being tabbed as the SEC’s top player, noted this preseason by ESPN?

Last season’s 88-catch, school-record setting 1,517-yard performance turned the heads of most media members in the direction of Williams-Brice Stadium and South Carolina’s second option on a talented offense.

But was one season, heck, six standout games, too little of a sample size?

Through four games in 2011 – Jeffery’s supposed junior-year, Heismanesque campaign – the St. Matthews, S.C. native has just 14 catches for 246 yards and a touchdown. He isn’t on anyone’s top player list at the moment and has been an afterthought in back-to-back games for the Gamecock offense.

Have defenses mastered multiple coverages against Jeffery? Is he struggling to get open? Some of Jeffery’s power outage has to do with a stressed passing game and a revised mindset from head coach Steve Spurrier to spread the ball to other receivers but with that being said, Jeffery’s had opportunities for big plays and hasn’t converted.

Sure, Jeffery’s had his “ooh-ahh” moments South Carolina fans have come to expect, including a fingertip touchdown grab at Georgia and a sprawling haul-in on a deflected pass against Vanderbilt. But the SEC East’s No. 1 receiver in 2010 hasn’t been the deep-threat most projected him to be as a junior and it could be hurting his hopes as a first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

For fans and writers that don’t follow the Gamecocks as closely as I do, I’m saying Alshon Jeffery is overrated and he let the preseason Sports Illustrated cover hype get to his head.

Numbers aside, Jeffery’s actual, real-time skill set is often overlooked.

On TV and in-person, Jeffery runs like he’s on stilts, clumsy at times, resembling Frankenstein’s monster with his 6-foot-4 frame and gargantuan hands.

Outside of his ability to catch a football no matter where it’s thrown, Jeffery doesn’t have the speed or moves to separate from a top-notch corner to be considered among the nation’s best wide receivers.

If you watch breakdown of Jeffery’s routes from snap to finish, it takes him a few seconds to get off the ball and really dig into his cuts. A sure-handed big target, yes, but Jeffery won’t have the impact at the next level as say, Sidney Rice, another South Carolina wideout with similar size, talent and ability to stretch the field.

Jeffery’s lack of breakaway speed and agility sets him behind similar standouts like Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon and Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles.

As a professional, Jeffery will closer resemble a possession receiver like Keyshawn Johnson instead of the Randy Moss-clone projected by many of “the experts”. I admit, I was on the Alshon Bandwagon shortly after Lane Kiffin said he’d be pumping gas after his college football career was over, but upon further inspection, he’s just another talented wide receiver in the SEC.

He won’t be pumping gas like Kiffin – though vehemently denied – predicted, but he won’t be scoring many touchdowns in the NFL either. Jeffery will certainly go down as one of South Carolina’s top receivers in school history, a deep lineage of wideouts that includes Sterling Sharpe, Robert Brooks, Rice, Kenny McKinley and Troy Williamson.

He’s just not as good as you think.

Flame away.

COMMENTS

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  • What a lack of understanding. The most powerful weapon is useless without the right delivery system. Jeffery doesn’t have the delivery system to put the ball play.

    • You’re just completely disregarding the facts MD Cock. I mentioned in the story the fact that Garcia is playing awful this season and Spurrier’s revised gameplan of getting more receivers touches. But Alshon isn’t the kind of player who can get you YAC at the next level. He’s a possession guy. Of course teams like sure-handed, 6-foot-5 targets, but he won’t be the deep threat we’ve come to expect. Too slow for that.

      • Where did you say Garcia is struggling? I see that nowhere in this article. I see “stressed passing game”, but that is beyond an understatement. The bottom line is that Alshon Jeffrey is nowhere near overrated, he just has Stephen Garcia as a quarterback. If we had anywhere near a consistent offense, Alshon Jeffery would be as great or greater than last season. I respect you throwing this out there, and I won’t throw you under the bus for doing so, but you are wrong. At least Alshon is a team player…every time the press asks him about his numbers he says that he just wants the team to win. I love Lattimore and what he is doing for our team, and that we are getting more receivers involved, but Garcia NEEDS to get it together and connect with Alshon for us to win down the stretch.

  • Jeffrey is limited by his QB. Also, breakout players and teams seem to have their most productive seasons when they are largely unknown quantities to their competition. The element of surprise is a very powerful weapon indeed. They almost always dazzle before they are solved by the opposition. In that regard, he’s not that different from others who played before him. Many of those simply struggled under the weight of their own hype.

  • What a tool this writer is. He said, and I quote…”For fans and writers that don’t follow the Gamecocks as closely as I do…” well, I have news for you sir, you don’t follow them as close as your overinflated ego allows yourself to think. Additionally you have NO IDEA what you’re talking about.

    EVERYONE that matters, you know, football people, has Alshon in the top 2-3 receivers in the country.

    A receiver is as only as good as his qb, football 101. Garcia doesn’t have it going at the moment. When Garcia is playing like he can, Alshon plays well. You’re a low level hack journalists who should be covering chess tournaments.

    BTW Alshon didn’t catch that deflected pass against Vandy, that was Ace Sanders.

  • First of all, nobody is as good as randy moss. The man was uncoverable when he wanted to be. Second, Keyshawn Johnson was a pretty great receiver.

    Jeffrey has some of the best hands ever, he can out jump most db’s, he is strong enough to make separation and he can run past most people. If you think different watch replays of 2010 Tenn, Bama and Auburn. This kid is sick. Carolina has changed their passing game a lot this year. There are very few short passes, wide out screens and out routes. Also, Spurrier has stressed to Garcia that he needs to hit other receivers, and Garcia has not thrown the ball well.

    Our passing yards have not been up and we have run the ball more than ever. But Alshon has always been there when we have needed him and he makes great plays. Look at the Vandy game where he almost got two feet in on Garcia’s bad fade pass. He deserves the hype

    • I actually thought Garcia made a good throw on that fade and I thought Alshon made the catch live. Unfortunately, we learned otherwise after reply evidence.

      • Blackmon and Broyles might be better getting off the ball, but they cannot compete with Alshon in strength and ability to battle in the air. If Blackmon is like Fitzgerald then Alshon is like TO. They are different recievers that can be used in different systems, but they each have a particular quality that seperates them from the pack.

  • I would be one of those fans that don’t watch South Carolina close. however, that makes sense considering my AU affiliation. From what I have seen from SC lately, is a lot of bad offense that is going to eventually destroy Lattimore and his future career. This is about Alshon though, and lets face it, with a better QB he would have lived up to his hype. Garcia is a horrible quarterback, without much of a chance to get any better throughout the season. With a better QB, alshon would have been a standout player. Get rid of Garcia and your offense will be able to put up more numbers.

    • What some of these readers are failing to realize is that I DID mention the lack of a good quarterback. But furthermore, for folks still saying Alshon > Blackmon, Broyles, they just aren’t watching college football. He struggles to get separation and is slow off the ball. Those are the facts.

  • You’re a complete tool. To call Alshon overrated is like calling Trent Richardson a coward. Everyone knows he doesn’t quite have breakaway speed, but he does have un-catchable speed. As in have you ever seen him get caught from behind? Since you follow the gamecocks so close and all I’m pretty sure you know that the answer is NO. Alshon doesn’t beat DB’s with his speed, he beats them with his strength, size, and hands. The Bama and Florida games last year are perfect examples. He made Janoris Jenkins look like a fool in Gainseville, yet didn’t run by him a single time. Most of the balls thrown to him this year have a.) been caught b.) thrown out of bounds or c.) thrown about 10 feet away from him and intercepted. Last week against Vandy he single handedly is the only reason Garcia had 4 interceptions and not 6! I just lost all of my respect for you as a writer.

    • Like I said in the first sentence, I figured this would upset some South Carolina homers.

      Look at this outside the box, from a different perspective. He’s an above average, ultra-talented wideout. But he’s not the elite guy that most think he’ll be at the next level. Yes he’s strong, yes he has amazing hands, but his routes aren’t crisp, he’s slow and he gets off the ball at a rate scouts won’t like.

  • Dude, are you MoRon’s son? You are a perfect example of a wannabe who can only get attention to your writing by inflaming a fan base. Your logic is flawed and your writing stinks. Here’s a news flash: Alshon did not get slower over the summer. Here is another news flash: Alshon runs his routes the same way he did last year. He has exactly the same skill set he had last year. He is the same reciever he was last year. He catches everything that is thrown near him. He still can out jump most defenders. He did not have breakaway speed last year. If your logic was so precise, you would have pointed out what happened, but you can’t because you don’t know, exept for Garcia being off his game, which is the reason for Alshon’s numbers being down. But then again, that would not be worthy of an article, now would it.

    • Again, from a numbers standpoint, part of it is Garcia’s problem and I’ve mentioned that. But like you said “he runs routes the same way he did, his speed is the same, etc”. That’s the problem. He’s never been a good route runner and he rarely finds space to get open. Will he play in the NFL? No doubt. But I’m simply saying he’s not the elite prospect some people think. He’ll be a possession guy at the next level, not someone who can stretch the field and be a deep threat. He’s not fast enough nor can he create separation good enough for that.

      • It was good enough last year when Garcia was playing up to his potential. You just proved my point. Alshon is the same guy he was last year. THE ONLY change is Garcia’s play. End of story and useless article.

  • Geez i had no idea SC fans were so sensitive. From an outside point of view, this article is fairly objective and well supported. Of course Garcia is part of the problem, but the writer mentions this as part of the problem. Of course Jeffery is a talented athlete, but I would agree, the most you heard about him was in the preseason. We’ll see how it shakes out.

  • 2 points….

    1. By the look of Jeffery on the SI cover, I think Stephen Garcia was Jeffery’s conditioning coach in the off-season

    2. Jeffery sure as hell ain’t no Sammy Watkins! Zing!

  • I do think it is funny that Alshon is not considered elite because 2 elite guys are better than him. I guess Trent Richardson is not elite because Lattimore and James are better. Or Lattimore is not elite because he is not as fast as James. Or James is not elite because he can’t break tackles like Lattimore and Richardson. Can we name 7 more guys that are better than Alshon right now? Take him out of the top 10 recievers and then he is not elite, or just find 3 guys better and take him out of the top 5.

  • You can argue that he’s not elite, but the preponderance of the evidence suggests otherwise:

    2009 46-763, 16.6 ypc, 6 TD (after only 5 catches in his first 5 games)
    2010 88-1517, 17.2 ypc, 9 TD

    (BTW, where do you get “one season, heck, six standout games” from? Is that your arbitrary statistical analysis? He had eight 100-yard receiving games last year. And does his freshman year not count?)

    He didn’t put up those numbers because he’s slow or because he can’t get separation, I can tell you that. His 14 catches for 246 yards and 1 TD is certainly disappointing so far in 2011, but with the sub-par QB play and the fact he’s been bracketed by two and three players in every game are making it tough to put up numbers comparable to 2010. Teams have geared their defenses to stop him, and it’s worked.

    Will he be a great pro? Heck, I don’t know any more than you. People considered better than AJ have flopped and people considered not as good have excelled in the NFL. But to write that he shouldn’t be considered among the elite COLLEGE wide receivers is just silly.

  • What tells me he is still elite and not overrated is how much respect he garners from the opposing defenses, double often triple covered, which has kept his YAC down more than his loss of talent. While you did qualify that the passing game is off, I think you greatly understated that a number of passes so far this year would have been caught and his numbers would be on par with last year if he were another 5 feet taller or Garcia was as accurate as my 11 year old when he throws the ball in the house.

    • Furthermore, take off the Alshon blinders and realize that a couple of Garcia’s INTs this year are a result of Alshon giving up on a play.

      • My Eyes are Wide Shut tyvm….the so called given up on routes, he gave up on because Garcia missed by a mile and he knew he was going to have to turn in to a defender (which if you look at last week, if not for Alshon, Big G would have had 6 interceptions instead of just 4). I know you basically wrote this to get people fired up which is understandable as it is your job to stir the pot and get the hits, so for that I say well done, as to your point of Alshon no longer being elite, you are wrong and it will be proven.

  • Alshon Jeffery is a great route runner, and I often see him make great separation. The problem therein is Garcia’s inconsistency in putting the ball where it needs to be. Ace’s 40yard deflection catch is a great example, Alshon ran a great deep route that Garcia simply under threw, Jeffery had the separation but had to position himself under the ball to catch it (one can argue that it was a ball overthrown to Ace who also ran a great over the middle double post route). It happens again and again, and it seems that Alshon doesn’t want to out run Garcia’s arm – and is playing to his quarterback’s strengths. All too often, big plays to Alshon involve Garcia throwing the ball up where only Alshon can get to it, and if the pass gets to him, the catch is made 4 out of 5 times. Doubting Alshon’s speed in relation to game footage in situations without a solid receiver is irresponsible, especially with many examples of Alshon’s YAC ability. When given the ball IN STRIDE (which is a rarity) Alshon has the ability to make tacklers miss and produce yardage.

  • Sorry, but this article is downright terrible.

    First off, the “deflected” pass was more of a tip to himself, it wasn’t contested by the defender at all, it only touched Jeffery’s hands.

    Second, it’s funny you call him clumsy and pedestrian when running his routes. It didn’t affect him at all last year or this year from the catches he’s made when the ball has actually been in his vicinity. Even at 6’4 230 he doesn’t barrel over defenders, he’s still juking them. I can remember a few times this year he’s made CB’s look stupid putting a simple move on them.

    Third, yes people have covered this, but he can only do so much when Garcia is struggling. Garcia has had him in one on one situations or even open with a 5 to 10 yard window at times, and Garcia looks like the one who’s afraid to throw the ball to him.

    Fourth, which kind of coincides with number two. Last I checked he doesn’t need breakaway speed to be elite. The ball can be contested and he’s proven time and time again he’s going to make the catch. You say you follow Carolina closely. Remember Vandy last year? How about Tennessee? Or Clemson even? And who can forget Bama last year. His first TD in the corner of the end zone was pretty crisp route running there. And his second TD, he had 5 yards on the defender.

    Yes, I’m a die-hard Gamecock fan and always will be. Perhaps my opinion is biased, and I’m okay with that. But like I said until Garcia comes around Jeffery can only do so much. If Garcia doesn’t get it together by the end of the Kentucky game, it may be too late.

    I do have to say again this article was horrendous though. Calling Jeffery overrated is laughable at best. I’m waiting for your next article on how Lattimore isn’t a great running back. Your turn to flame me.

  • The one thing that bothers me about this article is the fact it says that Jeffery will not be as good as Sidney Rice. Jeffery is a better receiver than Sidney Rice in all aspects except maybe leaping ability.

  • Oh and if he is slow and terrible at routes, I’m curious as to why he can never be covered on slant routes.

  • Most of your articles either pro or cons about players in College are always compared to NFL stats and players. STOP WRITING ABOUT THE EFFING NFL! This is College! If he was in the NFL and getting this much hype, yes he would be over rated. Dude he is in College, he makes plays when we need him to, he is a consistent competitor for the nations leader in the NCAA in receptions and yards. He is a nightmare for DBs to Cover. He has four games of stagnant stats because of Garcia and you decided to jump ahead and say he is over hyped. He still manages to pull down near impossible catches in these games. You sound like the idiot “Carolina fan/writer” that was saying “I’m the biggest Carolina fan but I am investigating the baseball team about a violation that will destroy the team and probably take away the National Titles” That story was BS and he was trying to make a name for himself but it appears you are trying to show the rest of the CF world that you are “non-bias” in your writing or you are just trying to stir controversy. I follow them as close or closer than you as well as many others of our fans. Jefferys is faster than he looks, it’s not graceful when he runs but it’s deceiving. Just Chill out with this Crap.

    • Actually, most of the stuff I’ve written for this site is about players in the SEC, notably the SEC East. Not professionals. Trying to make a name for myself? How about no, just stating my educated opinion that apparently you have a problem with. Thanks for reading and Go Cocks.

      BTW, at least get Alshon’s name right. It’s Jeffery not Jefferys. That has always irked me when most of Gamecocks fans can’t even spell his name correctly …

  • This proves how much of an idiot you are!! probably zero athletic ability or history yet you believe you can determine skill. Alshon is a stud, bottom line. Your terrible at life and as far a sammy watkins goes come see me in november, this year is for the middle finger so you really know how we feel!!

  • i can see where u are coming from but i honestly think alshons play has gone down b/c of garcia, he does get separation, but then has to slow down because the ball underthrown, if u watch most of his catches hes barely trotting backwards if hes moving at all so its no wonder it looks like he’s covered well, additionally he is almost always double teamed…..i dont think its fair to say he is underrated at this point