In one rapturous moment Friday night, Florida receiver Van Jefferson became a second-round — and second-generation — NFL draft pick.
The Gators’ leading receiver each of the past two years, Jefferson was taken by the Rams with the 57th overall pick. His selection came almost 29 years to the day after his father, Shawn, was taken by the Oilers in the ninth round.
The elder Jefferson, who had a journeyman NFL career, currently serves as Jets receivers coach.
“This kid is a technician in the game of football," ESPN draft analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin said. "It’s not just about knowing how to get open, it’s also about knowing when to be open. He’s very, very good at that.”
Jefferson began his career at Ole Miss but departed as a graduate transfer in early 2018 after the Rebels were hit with NCAA sanctions. In two seasons in Dan Mullen’s offense, he totaled 84 receptions for 1,160 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He exited with a sparkling effort (six catches, 129 yards) in a 36-28 victory against Virginia in the Orange Bowl, but arguably his best performance came in the 42-28 loss to eventual national champ LSU in October.
Often matched up against heralded Tigers freshman cornerback Derek Stingley, Jefferson had eight catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
He competed in the Senior Bowl in late January (catching two passes) but couldn’t compete at the ensuing NFL scouting combine due to a foot fracture that was discovered by doctors examining him at the event.
“I think he’s one of the elite route runners in this draft class,” ESPN’s Daniel Jeremiah said. “He’s creative in his release off the line of scrimmage, he’s polished at the top of the route, and he’s got incredibly strong hands.”