Questions of Janoris Jenkins' character plummeted his draft stock this past April, but his off-the-field behavior shouldn't keep him from becoming a shutdown corner in the NFL. Jenkins was drafted 39th overall to the St. Louis Rams in the NFL draft this year, and newly hired coach Jeff Fisher loves the kid.
Fisher is so confident in Jenkins' game that he has already named the rookie a starting cornerback alongside Cortland Finnegan.
But will Jenkins be able to mirror Finnegan’s success in this league? Here is why Janoris Jenkins will be the right man for St. Louis this year.
Let's go ahead and get the "troublemaker" argument out of the way.
Jenkins was kicked off the Florida football team his senior year after being arrested for a third time in his three years at the school—he was arrested once for altercations in a fight and twice for possession of marijuana.
Jenkins transferred to the University of North Alabama his senior year, where he played 12 games and got into another fight, this time with an opposing player.
He has a troubled past, I get that, but that has nothing to say about how he will perform in an NFL game.
You're going to tell me that Jenkins is the first player to enter the league with off-field issues?
All I know is that Jenkins runs a 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds, and he was one of the most athletic players to come out of this year’s draft.
Furthermore, should the Rams even care about character at this point? They won two games all of last year. There isn't time to worry about a player's reputation off the field—they need guys who have a reputation on it.
With Cortland Finnegan opposite Jenkins, expect the rookie to be targeted early on in the season. Teams would much rather exploit the weaknesses of Jenkins than force balls through the All-Pro in Finnegan.
One of Jenkins' biggest flaws is his smaller size. At 5'10" and 193 pounds, many analysts feel that Jenkins could easily be overpowered in the NFL, but a look at his college career says otherwise.
In his three years at Florida, Jenkins faced some of the most dangerous wideouts in the league today. He lined up against A.J. Green (6'4", Georgia), Julio Jones (6'3", Alabama) and Alshon Jeffery (6'3", South Carolina). These are three of the most dominant receivers to play in the SEC in the past four years.
And despite being five inches shorter, Jenkins allowed only one touchdown (Green) in the nine games he played against them.
If Jenkins was able to stop those three guys in red-zone situations, he has to be labeled as a top-tier, lock-down defender.
Whether it's man-to-man or zone coverage, Janoris Jenkins has the tools to be a success story for the Rams. He can jam receivers at the line, blitz off the backside and intercept any ball thrown his way.
Even on the rare occasion that he is beaten, Jenkins' recovery speed ranks him above most of the other corners in the NFL. His exceptional footwork and ability to close in on defenders will significantly impact the deteriorated St. Louis secondary of 2011.
If you are a Rams fan, I hope you appreciate the gift the 31 teams of the NFL just gave you. Drafting this guy in the second round is pulling the ultimate Danny Ocean.
Jenkins might have a little baggage, but the fact that a top-10 talent was drafted 39th overall is one heck of a bargain.