Possesses decent range in his drop and gets good depth initially out of his stance, but struggles to maintain his balance through his back-pedal and struggles to quickly change directions. Has a tendency to bite on play fakes and isn't overly disciplined when asked to play the deep half. Struggles get back out of his breaks when asked to turn and run and simply lacks range sideline-to-sideline. However, he does exhibit some savvy as a blitzer, timing up blocks inside and exploding through daylight from the secondary.
Impression: Will flash here and there, but lacks the kind of range and instincts needed to be trusted to play in an NFL secondary."
An honorable mention freshman All-American selection in his first season at Rutgers, Lefeged finished the year with 38 tackles and three sacks. He started twelve games as a sophomore and registered 72 tackles and one sack, then started every game as a junior at both strong safety and as the teams primary kick returner and totaled 35 tackles with one sack, two forced fumbles, his first career interception and four pass break-ups. He also returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown and blocked a punt and a field goal. In 2010, he made a career-high 84 tackles and added two sacks, four forced fumbles, an interception and six pass break-ups.
Lefeged is a one-dimensional player at this point and this limits his ability to contribute at the next level. He shows great aggressiveness supporting the run around the line of scrimmage but struggles to make plays in space and has very little experience in pass coverage. He should be a late-round draft pick and could contribute right away as a run stopper and special teamer, but needs to prove he can defend the pass to be a starter in the NFL.
Positives: Has great backfield awareness to read and react to play-action instantly. Plays on the balls of his feet. Fills running lanes hard and with urgency from the secondary. Runs with good balance and agility. Fights his way through traffic in run support or when blitzing. Breaks down well and stays patient when handling cutback moves. Excellent tackler. Attacks the ball carrier aggressively. Can make plays at the line of scrimmage. Wraps up ballcarriers' lower body and takes him to the ground. Hard hitter. Will throw his body into piles. Reads the quarterbacks eyes well and reacts quickly to the throw. Flips his hips quickly in coverage. Has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Fights hard until the whistle is blown.
Negatives: Very limited experience in pass coverage. Takes poor angles in pursuit. Uncomfortable making plays outside the box and is generally ineffective playing in space. Plays out of control and can run himself out of the play. Struggles to shed blocks from offensive linemen. Does not disguise his blitzes well and allows the quarterback to make adjustments to him before the snap. Needs to mix up pass-rush moves when blitzing from the edge. Does not square his shoulders, dives at ballcarriers' ankles and falls for head fakes in the open field. Occasionally leads with his shoulder instead of wrapping up. Does not have the ability to make people miss as a return man."
Positive: Tough, run defending safety best playing downhill. Fast up the field and plays with suddenness. Has an explosive burst to the action, works well with cornerbacks, and covers a lot of area. Solid special teams player and flashes ability returning kicks.
Negative: Marginally instinctive and too often gets caught out of position. Not a reliable tackler. Exploited by bigger opponents.
Analysis: Lefeged is a safety who runs hot and cold on the field displaying the ability to make big plays on occasion. He possesses the athleticism to be a dime back and a special teams player at the next level but must pull the pieces together."
Negatives: Does not have great range despite having good speed, may be a liability when asked to cover large portions of the field in zone coverage... Not a consistent wrap-up tackler, has shown poor form on many occasions, gets too high at contact... Takes a lot of missteps, shows poor body control and change-of-direction ability, not a very fluid player... Is not great at getting off blocks, can be taken out of running plays fairly easily... Never had high interception totals, only picked off two passes in four-year career."
The 2010 season continued where 2009 left off. Through seven games Lefeged is second on the Scarlet Knights with 51 tackles. However, it is on special teams where Lefeged really shines. He has been a consistent kick and punt returner and would have a touchdown if it was not for a holding penalty on a 95 yard kick-off return. The second game of the year Rutgers was struggling and Lefeged basically won the game on his own against Florida International. He blocked two punts and forced three turnovers in one contest. Rutgers went on to win the game 19-14 and that would not have happened if it was not for Lefeged.
Lefeged is a little undersized for a traditional safety in the NFL. He is not the fastest guy around either, but he simply gets the job done in every possible way. At best Lefeged is a mid-round draft pick, but some team will get a great special teams player and a versatile safety who could work his way into a starting role with a little experience."
Joe Lefeged's Long Speed is pretty good, but he lacks both the Diagnostic Skills + Processing Speed to read plays effectively, and the Verticity ~ the Turn + Burn ~ to react effectively. And his Instincts are poor. Consequently, his Range suffers, and he is a liability in Coverage.
He's got some fire in the belly, and he's tough in the Run Game. There may be a future for him as a Reserve. But all in all, he seems likely to go too early in what is a remarkably barren Strong Safety Draft Class.
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