So it wasn’t nearly as damning as Lane Kiffin’s gas-pumping comments, but my midseason column in 2011 during Alshon Jeffery’s junior year at South Carolina turned out to be a load of malarkey as I underplayed the lanky receiver’s prospects of a bright NFL future.
At the the time, some readers agreed ESPN and Saturday Down South’s preseason top-ranked player in the SEC was overrated, but most didn’t.
I’ll admit, my lips were sealed last fall during Jeffery’s rookie season during which he was rarely targeted and finished with a subpar 24 receptions for 367 yards and three touchdowns.
The anticipated sophomore slump didn’t happen, however. And with more confidence, grew dominance.
Between the 2012 offseason and now, Jeffery’s developed into a matchup nightmare as the perfect compliment to Chicago Bears wideout Brandon Marshall. He’s a constant threat at the sticks, a dependable red zone target and has proved separation ability on the deep ball.
Related: Is Alshon Jeffery overrated?
Jeffery’s been such a problem for opposing defenses this season that Marshall questioned his own featured role in the offense after a Week 5 loss to New Orleans. Marshall wasn’t happy a second-year player was targeted 13 times by former Vandy quarterback Jay Cutler compared to just five looks toward the former All-Pro.
“Sometimes, the formula may go to me. But sometimes, whatever is best for the team, that’s what we need to do. So I’m always gonna be frustrated when our offense isn’t No. 1 in the league. I’m always gonna be frustrated when we’re losing. So yeah, I’m frustrated.”
Marshall’s postgame outrage was almost as foul as my thoughts from the 2011 Jeffery draft stock column:
“As a professional, Jeffery will more closely resemble a possession receiver like Keyshawn Johnson instead of the Randy Moss-clone projected by many of “the experts”.
Clearly, I’m not one of those experts and Marshall has some stiff competition as Chicago’s No. 1.
Jeffery’s recent snare in the back of the end zone on Monday Night Football in a win over the Cowboys followed a franchise record 12-catch, 249-yard outburst the previous week. He’s the budding star of the NFL’s top receiving duo and ranks second in the NFC in yardage with 1,193.
Only Calvin Johnson has more.
The Bears have even used Jeffery as an end-around threat, a wrinkle rarely seen during his stint with the Gamecocks. The St. Matthews, S.C. native has carried the football 15 times with a 7.2 yards per carry average.
The only good call I’ve made on Jeffery this season was drafting him as a late-round pick in my fantasy football league.
The rest I’ve tried to forget.
Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports