Every time Jerry Jeudy leaves the huddle, opposing defenses try whatever it takes to stop him from breaking off a big play. They’ll send an extra defensive back to double-cover him, or they’ll shade some safety help over the top, or they’ll move the corner up and try to jam him at the line — anything to try to put him at a disadvantage.
What they don’t know is that when they do that, they’re really just giving Jeudy an extra advantage.
“It really starts off with knowing the defense, knowing what the DB is giving you, knowing what he wants you to do and what he doesn't want you to do it and using it to my advantage to get open,” Jeudy said. “You just have to say, 'My advantage is the defense and the DB,’ really."
It’s that mental preparation, as well as his elite physical skills, that make Jeudy, an Alabama standout, one of the top receivers in this draft class, and a potential Jets target at No. 11.
“I feel like I'm a good overall receiver, like I can do it all,” Jeudy said via phone Friday from Miami while signing autographs during a youth skills clinic hosted by Panini America. “I can play inside, I can play outside. I can run deep routes, I can run short routes, I can run intermediate routes. I feel like I've got the whole package.”
Jeudy wouldn’t compare himself to any current NFL receivers, but he did rattle off a list of players he looks up to and tries to model his game after.
“Calvin Ridley, Odell Beckham, Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen,” Jeudy said. “Just how crisp they are with their route-running, stuff like that.”
Those four guys all are either the top receiver on their teams, or in Ridley’s case, a quality No. 2 option behind Julio Jones. And the things he’s learned by watching those receivers have translated onto the field. When Jeudy turns on the jets to take a 5-yard slant 60 yards for a touchdown, it’s hard not to see shades of Beckham’s route-running ability, or Ridley’s shiftiness when Jeudy slips past a defender, or Diggs’ downfield speed when Jeudy runs right past his man.
Could all of that be enough for the Jets to consider taking Jeudy in the first round? Whether or not Robby Anderson returns, the Jets might look to give Sam Darnold some extra help as he enters his third season as the starting quarterback.
Jeudy knows it’s not his call as to whether or not he ends up in green this April, but he said he’d be able to contribute wherever he lands.
“I feel like they're a good team,” Jeudy said. “I feel like I'm a quick learner, I can learn the playbook fast. If they do draft me, they're going to see me give them my all.”
Jeudy declared for the draft last month after catching a team-high 77 passes for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns. He won the Biletnikoff Award as a sophomore in 2018 after making 68 grabs for 1,315 yards and an SEC-best 14 touchdowns.
His receiving numbers were down last season in part because of an embarrassment of riches in the Crimson Tide’s receiving corps. DeVonta Smith enjoyed a career year with a Crimson Tide-best 1,256 yards and 14 TDs, and Henry Ruggs III (40 catches, 746 yards, 7 TDs) continued to take the top off of opposing defenses with his speed.
Smith returned to Alabama for his senior season, but Ruggs declared, and Jeudy thinks his teammate could threaten John Ross’ Combine record of a 4.25 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
“It's just the little stuff he needs to work on, just like his start,” Jeudy said of Ruggs. “He had a bad start and still ran a 4.25 (at Alabama's junior day last March). Once he gets all that tuned up, I think he's going to be real good.”
As for Jeudy, he’s been working on getting stronger and being more physical at the line of scrimmage against bigger defenders.
“I feel like I'm good at getting off with my quickness,” Jeudy said, “but sometimes you’ve got to switch it up by using power and stuff like that.”
Yet another way to get an advantage.