Quinton Jefferson – DT – Maryland
Rnd 5 Pick 147
33 3/8″ Arm Length
8 7/8″ Hand Size
Quinton Jefferson is the pass rushing interior lineman to complement the pickup of Jarran Reed in the 2nd Round. He fits a clear pattern of player that Seattle likes to have around and makes a ton of sense for the Seahawks. A lot of draft experts had him pegged going lower or even as a UDFA, but with all the depth on the line in this draft it was hard to know who would be picked and who wouldn’t. With the way this Front Office has selected their mid-round Defensive Linemen, I will not question their decision on Jefferson.
If I were inclined to question though, a quick look at his tape shows a really disruptive player who effects the pass game in the way every team in the NFL wants to. He has solid height and length, carrying good bulk for his quickness. He has nice field awareness, knowing where the play is and staying with it to make a difference for his team. Against the run his tendency to play high and get stuck to blocks really shows as an area he needs to work on, likely pushing him to more of a rotational pass rush specialist at least to start his career. However, as a pass rush specialist there is reason to believe he could make an impact right away. He has a really nice tool kit, using chops, cuts, and fakes to throw the blocker off balance. He has a very effective jump cut and swim move that he uses with really quick feet and reaction time off the line to get inside and disrupt plays. When he was healthy, he had a great motor and burst off the line as well as the quickness to close on Quarterbacks and Runningbacks so he could make a play. If he is all the way back from a 2014 ACL tear he could end up having been a really big value pick as he does have some unexplored upside.
Part of the reason fro the upside on Jefferson is that he hasn’t been an interior lineman that long. He started off as a Defensive End in a 3-4 front at Maryland before moving to a 4-3 Defensive Tackle his Senior year. As a Sophomore in 2013 he had his first series of starts (at DE) and made a great showing of them with 46 Tackles, 7.5 Tackles for Loss, 3 Sacks, and 1 Forced Fumble. 3 games into 2014 he tore his ACL and his season was over. After recovery from injury and a position change to Defensive Tackle when the scheme switched to 4-3, he earned All Big 10 Honorable Mention his Junior year in 2015 with 39 Tackles, 12.5 Tackles for Loss, 6.5 Sacks, 1 Interception, and 1 Blocked Kick. As that stat line shows, he was a very disruptive interior player despite only seeing the field for 1 year in that spot.
Jefferson entered the draft after his Junior season in part to financially provide for his wife and 3 young daughters. By all accounts, he is a family man with his head on right and was a leader on his college team. He’s the kind of player that is easy to root for, especially when he is happy to be here. He makes tons of sense in a role similar to what Jordan Hill has done as a 3rd down interior pass rush specialist. I also would be interested in seeing if they tap into his Defensive End history as an oversize DE in a 4-3 on run downs. Hard to say for now, but he certainly makes a lot of sense and ought to see a fair number of snaps this year as part of what may be the deepest Defensive Line rotation in the NFL.