Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Pick: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida/North Alabama
Cornerback Terence Newman is almost certainly going to be released this offseason, and nickel back Orlando Scandrick does not seem prepared to play outside on a full-time basis. The team’s top cornerback, Mike Jenkins, is coming off of an up-and-down season in which he struggled with injuries. While I am a firm believer that a large portion of secondary success is due to an effective pass rush, I don’t think there is any doubting that this defense needs a cornerback.
Unfortunately for Dallas, a lot of the top cornerback prospects in the 2012 Draft have issues. Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick was recently arrested for marijuana possession–the same problem that plagued the feature of this article. Janoris Jenkins has a Top-15 skill set, but he is almost assuredly going to drop due to off-field concerns. As you probably know, Jenkins had to play football at North Alabama this past season because he was kicked off of the Florida football team for drug charges.
On paper, this looks like an easy call for Jason Garrett and the Cowboys. . .there is a solid chance Jenkins won’t even be on the team’s draft board. The determining factor will be if the organization deems Jenkins’ struggles with pot to be a standalone issue, or if they think it is representative of a much larger problem (whether it be with other drugs, immaturity, or something else).
One of the reasons I think you will see Janoris Jenkins fall on draft day is that his flaws are not limited to smoking pot. At 5’10”, 191 pounds, Jenkins is undersized. He uses the size and strength he possesses well, but some teams might get scared off.
Despite his stature, Jenkins presses pretty well. He was effective in jamming both A.J. Green and Julio Jones in 2010, so he can compete with the big boys. For whatever reason, though, Jenkins had what scouts are calling a “not so stellar” season at North Alabama in 2011. Potential first-round picks should dominate at the 1-AA level, and Jenkins did not. His pre-2011 game tape is good enough that we know he can play, so Jenkins’ struggles might be a sign of a lack of motivation more than anything else. That’s probably more concerning that on-field play.
On the field, Jenkins has tremendous awareness and ball-hawking ability. He can play both man and zone coverage very well, actually excelling more in the latter (at times) due to his ability to read the quarterback. Jenkins frequently comes off of his receiver to make plays elsewhere on the field. He is exactly the sort of playmaker Dallas could use.
Jenkins’ willingness to jump routes makes him an all-or-nothing type of cornerback, though. He makes a ton of big plays, but he gets beat a lot as well. We frequently throw around comparisons between prospects and NFL players to make assessing them easier, but I have never seen a college player resemble a pro player more than Jenkins to Asante Samuel. Janoris Jenkins is Samuel in just about every aspect–undersized, playmaker, route-jumper, cocky, immature, surprisingly physical while still being a poor tackler, athletic, versatile–you name the trait, and Jenkins and Samuel probably share it.
Because of Jenkins’ off-field struggles and his the somewhat schizophrenic manner of his on-field play, teams will likely vary widely in how they assess him. It only takes one team to fall in love with you to secure a favorable draft spot, but I still think Jenkins will fall further than people expect. Is he a first-round talent? Yes, but he’s not a flawless prospect that can easily overcome perhaps major character concerns.
Jenkins is widely considered a top 25 selection, but I think you’ll see him fall out of that range come April. In my opinion, a team with a solid organizational structure, like New England, will take a gamble on Jenkins late in the first round. That’s not a foregone conclusion, though, and the talented-but-risky cornerback could drop into the second round.
If Jenkins is on Dallas’ board and ends up dropping, they will have a difficult decision. He’s not the type of player Garrett seems to be targeting, but, despite his weaknesses, he’s a very athletic playmaker who could be of use to the ‘Boys. His gambling style of play might be exactly what Rob Ryan’s defense needs. If Jenkins interviews well, the Cowboys might want to keep an eye on him should he drop.
Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Picks