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By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Pick: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida/North Alabama

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Jonathan Bales

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).

Scouting Report

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.

Projection

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

Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

David DeCastro, G, Stanford

Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

Quinton Coples, DE, UNC

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21 Responses to Dallas Cowboys Potential 2012 Draft Pick: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida/North Alabama

  1. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    There is no doubting this guys cover skills. In some ways/schemes, he’s better than Claiborne. But, as mentioned, he is a risk at 14th overall. He is either a trade down acquisition (like in the 20s) or a hope for the 2nd round acquisition.

    I wouldn’t be mad at Dallas selecting 14th overall, but I think there will be less risky options available that would help the team just as much.

  2. Jeremiah Thompson says:

    Wouldn’t be surprised if he’s on the board when the Cowboys pick in the second round. But even if we miss on him Brandon Boykins or Stephon Gilmore seem like they could be just as good without the baggage.

    We definitely don’t want Dez & Janoris hanging out at the clubs together!

  3. Vince_Grey says:

    Well, first of all, we need more pass rush FIRST

    Jenkins had several incidents with the Gators. It was more than just pot once or twice. Dude’s a thug, period. It takes a LOT to get a talented kid kicked off the team at Florida under Urban but JJ managed it.

    I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole in the 1st round, but 2nd? Maybe, but I’d hate to see yet another sh^tty tackling corner on this team.

    It seems like these days, under these conditions, it’s virtually impossible to stop a team from completing at least 2 of every 3 passes no matter how great the coverage. That said, tackling these guys and limiting them to little or no YAC seems vital, so secondary players who can tackle would seem to be imperative.

  4. moses says:

    He would be a good pick up in the 2nd round.

    I still think that we need help on the DL and OL. A strong DT that can collapse the pocket or a true 34 DE that has pass rush skills are important to protect the secondary.

    I still think that we need help on the OL. Mike Adams looked very good at the Senior Bowl. It also depends on Holland. Has he turned a corner and will he be dependable.

  5. craig kocay says:

    I would rather have Eric Berry

  6. john coleman says:

    Jeremiah- Dez and Janoris at clubs? We didn’t seem to mind issues with thugapotamus Dez. Why should it matter with Janoris? Maybe I’m the only one sick of Dez. Seriously, we simply don’t need guys like this.

    Janoris Jenkins size is a little small for my liking. However he is no smaller than at least 50% of the league. The real issue for me is speed. Janoris is one of the better ones with a 4.46. Still, 4.46 is not elite speed. It will be interesting to see what these guys run at the combine. Only a few are listed i the 4.4s, Kirkpatrick 4.49, Johnson 4.49, Minniefield 4.49, and the kid from UCF(Name eludes me) 4.47. Asa Jackson runs a 4.42 but isn’t highly rated. A ton of the larger prospects are at 4.50-4.52. That’s average FS speed.

    Bottomline is that the CBs are deeply average as far as talent goes. The good news is that our secondary is so bad that they may still help. As of now, I like Minniefield, Then Trumaine Johnson/Stephon Gilmore, then Leonard Johnson. I AM NOT HIGH ON DENNARD at all. In fact I think he faked injury at the Senior Bowl because he was getting beat by everyone.

  7. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    VG, Iike your pass rush 1st mentality but think there’s actually a greater need on the team.

    Basically, the weakest position on the team right now (before FA) is safety. McCray/Church are not starting caliber safeties (think Alan Ball). Second weakest is G – Arkin or Nagy starting? Thirds is center – Costa is horrible and his upside isn’t much. Kowalski actually looks like he’ll be better at some point, but that’s not soon (maybe 2-3 years). Fourth is LOLB – I actually think Victor Butler is the previous backup that is closest to starting material. A distant fifth need is CB. Everyone seems to think that a 1st round CB is necessary but I disagree. Scandrick and Jenkins will both be 4th year players next season – do we really want to add another young CB to the mix? A veteran CB is needed to add depth, to instruct technique and to play the slot on about 30-40% of the plays. Lastly, sixth, is back up TE. This should be a blocking type TE that will probably be 3rd on the depth chart (behind Witten and Phillips) but will replace Bennett who I don’t think should be resigned.

    In summary, the Cowboys needs (in order) are :

    FS/SS, G, C, LOLB, CB (and that’s CB#3 or slot CB), TE #3, QB #3.

    Given that, Jenkins shouldn’t be a consideration until the 2nd. Perhaps the Boys should consider trading up a few spots from 46 (say to about 35 or so) if he’s still available then but even so, they’d be addressing their 5th greatest need.

    I actually think they’ll look CB in free agency – JB are you gonna look at any of the potentials there (Porter, Thomas, Finnegan, etc.)?

  8. Mont Seventeen says:

    The problem with Jerrys Team is Jerry’s draft philosophy that has been allowed to thrive from his media driven fan base that continues to enable jerry perpetuating this flawed approach every offseason. Consistent winners use the current draft selections in anticipation to replace under performing players that are not worth a second contract and potential upcoming free agents that will demand more from teams unable to draft consistently, Jerry’s Team is the later.

    Every offseason Jerry’s Team bases its offseason moves on the previous years failures, which would be a great strategy if they could replay the previous season over again. The fact is the Top teams have already made steps towards the up coming season and this is why there will always be teams better than the Cowboys, always!

    In addition, to replace current free agents with current draft picks opens yourself up to the bust factor. Successful teams limit the bust factor by drafting guys that are not pressured and do not hinge success to the upcoming season.

    Drafting this kid Jenkins is a recipe for that disaster that repeats its self over and over with Jerrys Teams.

    Actually, its so frustrating watching jerry ignore basic principles of the anatomy of an NFL team… I can’t even finish my thought! This teams philosophy is a joke and to think they will ever be more than a shot in the dark from time to time is the very definition of insanity.

  9. Vince_Grey says:

    Our defense was so bad and lacking last year for two reasons: Lack of a consistent pass rush, especially inside, and not having any DB’s capable of generating turnovers and hitting hard enough to intimidate anyone.

    DB’s basically have three jobs: defend against passes, create turnovers via interceptions and causing fumbles, and tackling.

    In today’s NFL, thanks mainly to rule changes but also to better QB’ing and better receivers, it’s almost impossible to consistently prevent receptions. Even average NFL QB’s will hit about 60% in any give game. So, IMO, unless you’re Darrelle Revis, a DB’s main job mission is to tackle well to prevent YAC, hold onto interceptions when they hit your hands, and to hit as hard as possible to facilitate turnovers whenever possible intimidate receivers. Our DB’s do NONE of that particularly well.

    Like I said, only one or two CB’s in the entire NFL are gifted enough to fairly consistently prevent receptions, so the other parts are vital. I mean, if you can’t cover anyone, for God’s sake, at least tackle well, hit hard, and hold onto the ball when it hits your hands, right?

    Basically, if you want to prevent completions you must intimidate the QB with consistent pressure, (Preferably up the middle), and bat down some of his passes, which is where the all important pass rush comes in.

    I would focus more on finding DB’s with the OTHER skills, tackling, intelligence, hard hitting, and with good enough ball skills to make the interception when it’s there for you.

    To end, I still feel, and will always feel, NFL defense begins and ends with the pass rush, and not with just one guy, You need pressure from the outside AND the inside, and preferably from the other outside as well.

    But so far as getting some more DB’s, be they CB’s or safeties, I’m all for that as well, as long as we get some guys who can tackle and make some plays on the ball.

  10. Vince_Grey says:

    As far as drafting DB’s go, again, I would go with pass rush first, (Unless you sign Mario Williams as a FA, in which case I would at least consider an OL in the 1st) but later, any DB I draft must being willing and able to tackle, have decent hands, be intelligent enough to understand complicated schemes, and be versatile enough to play both man and zone coverages well. Size and speed are secondary (No pun intended) concerns for me. If they have the primary skill sets I listed I’m fine with a guy maybe an inch or two short who’s maybe a step slower than ideal.

    I mean, Newman had the height and the speed, yet hardly ever created turnovers. No thanks. Enough of that.

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