Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus recently broke down the best wide receivers by route type in the NFL for ESPN Insider. He looked at each particular pass pattern of the route tree and I was surprised at which Chicago Bears' receiver made the list.
When you think of Alshon Jeffery, the go route isn't the one I'd guess as being his forte.
The 6'3", 216 pound Jeffery ran a 4.48 forty yard dash at the 2012 NFL Combine. That time isn't slow by any means, but when thinking of the speed burners in the NFL, you usually think of the guys in the 4.3 range. The lanky Jeffery has been called a long strider, meaning it usually takes a bit to hit his top speed.
What makes Jeffery so effective on the Go route is is size and body control. He may not leave defensive backs in his dust off the line, but he's big enough to run through press coverage, he's just fast enough to get deep, and then he uses his size to shield defenders away from the ball while he uses his 36.5' vertical leap to high point the ball.
Here's what Palazzolo said about Jeffery.
Although perhaps not the first name to come to mind as the top receiver on go routes given his lack of elite top-end speed, Jeffery broke out in 2013 and did so by making plays down the field. Even while playing last season with two different quarterbacks, Jay Cutler and Josh McCown, Jeffery used his body well to shield defenders on his way to 15 receptions for 469 yards (31.3 yards per reception) on the go route.
With Brandon Marshall on the other side, the Bears have two receivers capable of making game-changing plays down the field even without creating a lot of separation from defenders.
Cutler obviously has a comfort level with the 6'4" Marshall, and now he's gained trust with Jeffery.
Jeffery's success on the go route could open up some options in the gameplan for the Bears. If defense's start sending a safety over the top in a Cover 2, Jeffery can run a "choice route" which gives him the option of breaking his go route off around 16-18 yards, depending on the coverage, and angling back towards the sideline.
What are your thoughts of Jeffery and the 2014 season?