Highly recruited by some big-name programs such as the University of South Carolina and Louisiana State University, cornerback Mike Jenkins opted to enroll at South Florida out of high school. After being red-shirted in 2003 and some early struggles with the Bulls, Jenkins developed into one of the top corners in the nation. His final season saw him rack up a career-high 41 tackles (31 solo) as well as four tackles for a loss, 12 passes defensed and three interceptions as an integral part of one of the nation's stingiest pass defenses.
With a solid college career under his belt, Jenkins has not done much to affect his draft stock one way or the other this offseason. He did not participate in the 2008 Senior Bowl and turned in ordinary numbers at the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine (at least not good enough to separate himself from other corners). But there is no doubting his football talents as he has shown them on the field plenty of times in the past. Jenkins figures to be one of the first corners taken and will likely be the first first-round draft pick in South Florida's history.
With two quality corners, USF was able to play a lot of man coverage last season. This played to Jenkins' strengths as a standout physical talent. At the combine, Jenkins bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times, and his college coaches believe he can do more on a good day. His 40-yard-dash times were among the best at his position as he ran a 4.38. This type of speed makes him hard to beat on deep throws. Even when he is beat, he has the closing speed to catch up to receivers and break on errant throws. His leaping ability and long arms make it easier for him to deal with taller receivers.
He is at his best when he is playing press coverage up on receivers. He has a solid frame and good upper-body muscle that allows him to jam and re-route a lot of receivers at the line of scrimmage. The speed and strength make him one of the tougher corners to play against as he is a solid all-around defensive back. It also gives him some versatility as he has lined up at safety during both his high school and collegiate careers.
Jenkins' speed also helps him in the return game. Not only does his quickness allow him to break away from would-be tacklers, he has good patience and sets up behind his blockers well. He will wait for the blocking to be there before picking his path down the field.
Despite his strong upper body, Jenkins has a reputation as someone who shies away from tackles, especially against the run. This was not a huge problem for him with USF as the team often had him in man coverage, so he would only be against receivers, but he tends to let others do the tackling rather than get involved. He also has difficulty shedding blockers and can take poor pursuit angles at times.
Jenkins also could take some work at the next level as he is still somewhat of a raw talent. He has very good athleticism, but he needs to work on reading quarterbacks and tends to bite on play fakes and misdirection plays. His ability to pick up on receivers' routes also needs to improve. This was not a huge problem in college due to his speed, which helped him recover from mistakes, but it is something that teams will look to exploit at the next level.
Off-field issues were a small problem for him last year. Teammate Carlton Williams and Jenkins were arrested after a fight outside of a bar in March 2007. He had a Taser stun gun pulled on him during the incident, although he did not violently resist arrest. For this Jenkins was briefly suspended from the team. This was his only off-field problem, but in today's NFL, with a premium placed on a clean off-field record, it is something teams could consider.
Expected Draft Placement
Jenkins' value is hard to determine before the draft. He has stated he doesn't look at the mock drafts and perhaps that is for good reason as he could go anywhere in the first round, outside of the first six picks. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has worked him out down in Florida and they could have need of a cornerback with the seventh pick, though that seems like a reach. He will likely be the second or third cornerback on most boards. If the Patriots pass on him, he could land at any number of other spots and could fall all the way down to the Dallas Cowboys or Green Bay Packers near the end of the round.
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
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