News broke Friday afternoon that Seattle had signed A.J. Jefferson, formerly of Minnesota, adding the cornerback to their offseason roster. Jefferson was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cardinals in 2010 and then traded to the Vikings in a swap of late-round draft selection in 2012. After being released in November soon after an arrest for domestic assault, he pled guilty to a misdemeanor and spent three days in jail this past March.
Jefferson's a pretty interesting athlete, so I thought it might be worthwhile to do a quick write-up on what makes him a particularly Seahawk-y acquisition. Since starting the SPARQ series, I've been impressed by the number of great athletes that Seattle brings in as camp bodies, and Jefferson is no exception.
The numbers you see there aren't wrong, he's just a freak athlete. Jefferson's 135 pSPARQ is 2.4 standard deviations above the cornerback average; a quick consultation at the back of my college stats textbook tells me that a 2.4 z-score corresponds to him ranking above 99% of the CB sample.
The following table shows his ranks in the statistical categories relative to the current Seattle roster and all prospects in the 2014 and 2013 drafts.
The final row is pretty impressive considering there's a sample of 402 draft-eligible cornerbacks against whom he's compared. Jefferson is an elite, elite athlete.
In our look at the Seattle CB profile a few weeks ago, we determined that the crucial values for a Seattle corner were arm length, broad jump, vertical, and height. Because Walter Thurmond doesn't have readily accessible values, I theorized that he fulfilled these categories in addition to elite agility and quickness, as the inside corner position doesn't have the advantage of the sideline to help in coverage. It appears that Jefferson fits this hypothesis quite well, with a 4-flat short shuttle adding on to excellent performance in the typical outside CB categories.
Jefferson is likely just a camp body, but he has the physical gifts to stick. Seattle doesn't have anyone locked in at the nickel with the loss of Thurmond, so the opportunity is certainly there.