As we enter the NFL Draft season, debate and discourse has inundated CSR. Arguments have been made for the selection of a Defensive Tackle, a Pass Rusher, a Franchise Offensive Tackle, an Elite WR, and Secondary help. Today I write you to consider the expenditure of the Panthers' First round pick on Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins is viewed to have world class talent at the CB position, and has demonstrated his skills on the top level; however, Jenkins has also struggled with substance abuse, a struggle that held back his success, and ultimately got him kicked out of Florida. Since then, Jenkins has reportedly turned around his lifestyle, and has kept his nose clean. Nonetheless, his multiple arrests have raised major questions about his character, and his ability to keep his nose clean. I implore you to consider Janoris Jenkins the football player, rather than Janoris Jenkins the college kid.
Coming into the 2011 College Football season, Janoris Jenkins (CB, Florida) was considered the top corner in the nation. After completing a marvelous junior campaign, many national pundits had high expectations for the leader of the Gators' Secondary. However, with the retirement of Urban Meyer, and the hiring of Will Muschamp, Jenkins was without his strongest proponent, and on shaky footing with his replacement. After his 3rd drug related charge in three years, Coach Muschamp decided to boot Jenkins out of Gainesville. Janoris would transfer to North Alabama to play under Terry Bowden for the Lions. Predictably, Jenkins dominated the lesser competition and racked up solid numbers.
Arriving in Gainesville in 2008, Jenkins displayed his talent during Spring Ball practices, and made an impression on Meyer, who placed Jenkins, a true freshman in the starting lineup. Jenkins was the 2nd ever true freshman to start on opening day in UF History. Jenkins started alongside Joe Haden a future Top 10 draft pick, and made his presence known in big games, coming up with 3 INT's and numerous passes broken up. Jenkins was an integral piece on 2008 Gators team, and played a large part in helping the team secure a national championship. For his part, Jenkins was named part of the Freshmen All SEC Team.
Next Season, Jenkins with an established starting spot, amassed even better stats, finishing the year with 38 Tackles, 3 TFL's, and 2 INT's. As the season progressed, Jenkins exhibited his mettle, and teams began to shy away from Jenkins, running pass plays away from him, and attempting to throw away from him. However, Jenkins was still playing under the shadow of Joe Haden, who would leave the Gators for the Cleveland Browns that April.
Coming into 2010, Jenkins was named to the Preseason All SEC team by the Coaches of the SEC and members of the press. Surveying the schedule, Jenkins was destined to be matched up against some of the best Wide Receivers in the nation, and future NFL stars. During the 2010 season Jenkins was matched up in man to man coverage against Julio Jones, AJ Green, and Alshon Jeffery. All three of the stud wide outs were tearing up the SEC, yet Jenkins would hold them to modest totals. Jones was held to 4 receptions for 19 yards; Green was limited to a season low 4 receptions and 42 yards; Jeffery would accumulate 6 receptions and 53 yards. Jenkins would execute perfect coverage, and was very physical with the larger Wide Receivers. It's also important to know that Jenkins played most of the 2010 season with a torn labrum muscle, opting to play through the pain before the injury forced him to have surgery and miss Florida's bowl game. Janoris finished the 2010 campaign 44 Tackles, 5.5 TFL's, 1 Sack, and 3 INT's. Deservedly, Jenkins was named to the All SEC team.
Janoris Jenkins vs Julio Jones & AJ Green (via BrownsOrBust)
Alshon Jeffery vs. Janoris Jenkins (2010) (via MockDraftClub)
After exhibiting his lockdown corner attributes on the large stage, Jenkins moved on to the University of Northern Alabama to conclude his college career. Jenkins would play out the 2011 season and accumulated 53 Tackles, 4 TFL's, and 2 INT's. Throughout his playing time in the NCAA, Jenkins exhibited great man coverage skills, good reaction to the run, physicality with bigger receivers, and great understanding of zone concepts. Talent wise, Janoris may be one of the most talented corners in the draft, receiving higher grades by many scouts, than Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama. However, Jenkins has dealt with the tribulations of drug abuse and a temper; This alone will probably scare most NFL GM's away from Jenkins. Yet, Jenkins has disavowed the use of marijuana, and has desisted from hanging out with anyone who uses drugs. Whether or not you believe Jenkins relinquishment of substance abuse, whether or not you are willing to hand Jenkins the keys to the castle, there is no denying Jenkins; the football player has the talent necessary to play Cornerback in the NFL. Personally, I think that Janoris Jenkins has turned his life around, and is worthy of being selected in the top ten by the Carolina Panthers. Jenkins would provide an immediate impact for the Panthers, capable of starting from Day 1, and with the supporting cast of Gamble, Beason, Thomas Davis, Charles Johnson, etc... Janoris Jenkins should be able to keep his nose clean.