Malik Jefferson, the consensus top outside linebacker in the nation, has expectedly become one of the most sought-after recruits in the Class of 2015. Jefferson plays high school football at Poteet High in Mesquite, Tex., where he has established himself among the top players in the Lone Star State and a top 25 player nationally.
Jefferson, who stands 6'3 and weights 215 pounds, is a composite five-star linebacker, 247 Sports and Scout gave him five-star grades, and both services rank him among the top two outside linebacker recruits in the country. Rivals and ESPN each give Jefferson four stars.
As of February, Jefferson held 18 reported scholarship offers, including Alabama, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas, Auburn, Florida State, Clemson, and Auburn.
As a five-star prospect and the top outside linebacker in the country, there aren't many concerns about Jefferson.
One of the concerns that does exist, however, concerns his frame. Though Jefferson is 6'3 and 215 pounds, he doesn't have the ideal wide shoulders of many other top outside linebacker prospects, something that could limit his physical development.
The other concern is that Jefferson is almost exclusively a downhill player against the run and pass in high school. This means that he doesn't appear to have a great deal of experience in coverage, based on his high school film. It may take him some time in college to adjust to taking those drops and turning and running with opponents in coverage, though he did acquit himself well in 7-on-7 last summer when he was playing the safety position and forced to play in much more space than he does in high school.
Jefferson does excel in his role for Poteet, where he is asked to aggressively attack the line of scrimmage on what appears to be virtually every play. In short areas, his quickness is elite, as well as his change of direction, which can allow him to both elude and defeat blockers.
In fact, while Jefferson may have a learning curve in dealing with offensive linemen at the second level in college, there's already plenty of evidence that he can use his strength to beat smaller players and a combination of his strength and quickness to beat bigger players.
The explosiveness that he shows in coming downhill translates to a wide tackling radius that allows Jefferson to make plays even if he doesn't take an ideal angle. His lateral quickness may be his best attribute.
There are a couple of question marks with Jefferson in regards to his frame and coverage ability, but he's such a good athlete and so good coming downhill that even if he struggles early in college to put it together as a complete linebacker, he'll still have a lot of value in a more narrow, attacking role.