A.J. Jenkins in the End Zone
The hype surrounding the NFL draft has reached a point where every fan who has Internet access believes they are in a position to second-guess the selections of their team’s front office.
People spend countless hours watching video on Youtube, scouring draft lists and looking at the rarely accurate mock drafts.
But without taking a step back and realizing all of the factors that a team must take into account when drafting, it is impossible to understand the thinking of those in charge. Teams must look not only at overall talent, but team fit and organizational philosophy.
Some picks are more obvious than others. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were picks the Colts and Redskins were obviously going to make. But after that, the selections start to get hazy as teams make trades and secretly fall in love with certain players.
The famous saying, “all it takes is one,” proves true time and time again as teams search for that special player in the draft. Yet no one knows for certain if another team felt the same way about that player and would have selected him as well.
One of the main reason I like that everyone is surprised by the 49ers' selection of A.J. Jenkins in the first round is that the organization was able to keep their information about him close to the vest. They were able to do the same thing with Aldon Smith and Chris Culliver last year to great effect.
Taking it a step further, they were a surprise candidate in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes by not being in the media as much as the more upfront teams. It also must be said that this gives them a chance to avoid the black eyes other teams receive when they are constantly in the news chasing players but ultimately fail to land them.
In an era when every team is searching high and low for any type of competitive advantage, this airtight secrecy gives the 49ers a leg up on the competition. It is hard to predict what they will do next. Thus, they are able to target the guys they want without the fear of someone jumping ahead of them.
As for A.J. Jenkins the player, he put up excellent numbers last year in a good conference with a bad quarterback. He ran well at the combine, posting a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash and appears to have excellent hands. He also showed a good ability to separate.
The main concerns with him is that he is on the smaller side for receivers and his route running could use more consistency. Despite that, Jenkins could turn out to be an excellent complement as a deep threat to Michael Crabtree’s possession-receiving skills.
All of this is not to say that Jenkins will be a great pick. From injuries to adjusting to the speed of the game, it is almost impossible to predict if a player will pan out. But as of now, fans should remain confident that San Francisco knows what it is doing and is handling things the right way.