With the 2016 NFL Draft drawing closer every day, we’re continuing to focus on the top available college prospects. Jordan Jenkins’ college production and athletic testing has enticed the New Orleans Saints, but what skillset would he add to the roster. Should they bring him to the Crescent City?
- Height: 6-foot-3
- Weight: 259 pounds
- Arm length: 34 1/4 inches
- Hands: 11 1/4 inches
Jordan Jenkins has had a low-key, yet decorated career for the University of Georgia. He was elected team captain, selected to the All-SEC Second Team following his breakout sophomore year, and has gained appreciation throughout scouting circles as one of the most well-rounded edge defenders in the 2016 draft class. So why isn’t he getting more attention?
Jenkins’ best selling-point is his overall sturdiness. He has fantastic size for an outside linebacker, tipping the scales at nearly 260 pounds with very long arms and broad hands. He excels at holding up the edge against the run and bull-rushing offensive linemen with a very quick first step. Jenkins may be one of the smartest linebackers in the draft and has shown an adept understanding for his role in zone coverages. There aren’t any obvious weaknesses to his game.
The trouble is that Jenkins doesn’t have a unique strength. He’s never had double-digit sacks or led the nation in tackles for loss. He was evenly matched against the SEC’s top offensive tackles and tight ends (many of them future first-round picks, like Alabama’s Cam Robinson and O.J. Howard), but laid waste to lesser competition like every member of the 2016 Vanderbilt football team.
Jenkins projects to have a long career as a high-quality depth option who can step into a starting role when needed. He won’t make mistakes and will reliably do his job. But he’ll probably never sniff a Pro Bowl appearance or win a lot of accolades. And that’s fine; too often are rookies expected to save a franchise or revitalize a team in one year. If the Saints are really going to turn around their defense, players like Jenkins are the exact kind of talent they need to inject their roster with.
How he fits the New Orleans Saints:
Jordan Jenkins is a versatile, tough defender who can solidify a weak group of edge defenders in New Orleans. The only known quantities are second-year starter Hau’oli Kikaha (four sacks in 2015) and third-year pass-rush specialist Kasim Edebali (seven sacks in his career). Beyond that, a couple of hopefuls are throwing their hats in the ring: former Sun Belt Conference superstar Davis Tull and tight end-turn-defensive end Obum Gwacham.
Thanks to his experience playing end and linebacker, Jenkins would immediately find his way onto the field backing up Kikaha and starting strongside linebacker Stephone Anthony. Jenkins could possibly start from day one at either position if needed but given recent investments through the draft (Kikaha, Anthony, and Tull were all drafted last year) and free agency (veterans Nate Stupar and James Laurinaitis were added this spring) it’s probable that Jenkins would work his way onto the field as coaches get a better feel for his strengths and weaknesses.
Regardless of where he plays, Jenkins could be trusted to execute his assignments and lead the unit by example in all three phases of playing defense. He is a passionate run defender with great burst off the line and situational awareness to track ball-carriers. Jenkins has flashed some pass-rush ability despite a lack of elite athleticism (that said, his ten-yard burst of 1.58-seconds is better than former first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, who posted a 1.59-second dash). He holds his own in zone coverage well enough to stay on the field on third down.
Per Walter Football.com’s Prospects Meetings Tracker, Jenkins, along with edge defender Noah Spence and linebacker Su’a Cravens, is one of the only players the Saints have met with multiple times and publicly expressed interest in: they flew the Georgia Bulldog in for a private meeting and interview while also meeting with him at his pro day, and sending members of the coaching staff to give him a hands-on workout. Jenkins checks all the boxes the Saints have looked for under new scouting director Jeff Ireland, and it’s safe to assume that’s he’s high on their radar come the draft.
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