Switching from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 Losing Chris Jones hurts a bit, but the defensive line still has plenty of talent. And they’ve got a valuable leader in A.J. Jefferson.
Jefferson exploded onto the scene last year, doubling his production from his 2014 season. His 47 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks forced SEC offensive lines to start to take notice of his presence on the field.
And he also blew up Southern Miss’ running back. That was a fun play to watch:
"I didn't even see the running back. I felt him on my leg and I kept rollin'." - AJ Jefferson (gif via @SBNationGIF) pic.twitter.com/IvImj1fnkq— Bob Carskadon (@bobcarskadon) September 6, 2015
But, should we buy or sell that Jefferson will get 7.5 sacks this season?
Reasons to buy:
- He’s improved each and every season up to this point as he’s gained more playing time. As a starter, as I mentioned above, he essentially doubled his production. Another year of experience under his belt might be just what he needs to get to 7.5 sacks this season.
- There’s plenty of talent elsewhere in the front seven that opposing offensive lines will have to worry about. Whether it’s Richie Brown, Gerri Green, or Leo Lewis at linebacker, or if it’s Nick James, Will Coleman, Nelson Adams, or Jeffery Simmons on the defensive line, opposing offenses are going to have plenty to worry about and that means that offenses can’t double up on Jefferson all that often.
Reasons to sell:
- Changes in the defensive scheme might not be beneficial to Jefferson. After all, he’s on his third defensive coordinator in four years, and that’s a lot of turnover in schemes, formations, and philosophies. It’s possible that Sirmon’s schemes may not click with Jefferson.
- And all of that depth and talent that I mentioned above might come back to bite Jefferson in the butt a little bit. Obviously you want to get your best guys on the field as much as possible, but there might be situations where other defensive linemen and linebackers are better suited to see the field than Jefferson.
Am I buying or selling?
I’ll buy on this one. Jefferson appears to have the right talent and mental toughness to be able to compete in the SEC at a high level, and the only thing that I expect that would even potentially slow him down would be a potential injury. He’s seen just about everything that the SEC can throw at him at this point, having played in 39 games in his career. And though there’s a slim chance that they happen, I don’t believe that he’ll lose out on too much playing time or have trouble adjusting to Sirmon’s schemes.
What about you? Are you buying or selling?