The St. Louis Rams gambled and selected cornerback Janoris Jenkins with the No. 39 pick in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft despite character concerns. They had appeared to make a great decision—until Week 10 of the season.
According to Adam Schefter on Twitter, Jenkins was a healthy scratch from the Rams' game Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers for violating team rules.
Rams WR Chris Givens and CB Janoris Jenkins deactivated for violating team rules.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 11, 2012
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is known for being strict with his players, so disciplining Jenkins for what he perceives as breaking a rule is not out of the ordinary.
Unfortunately, it's also not uncommon for Jenkins to be in trouble.
The knock on Jenkins coming out of college was his character and issues with the law. Despite likely being the most physically gifted cornerback in his draft class, he had several run-ins with the law and other events that hinted at his potential as an off-field bust.
Jenkins was cited for two misdemeanor marijuana possession charges in a three-month span while playing football for Florida and was promptly kicked off the team. He would play his final year in college at North Alabama.
Even though he was kicked off Florida, which placed his career in jeopardy, Jenkins revealed to pro teams in interviews before the draft that he continued to smoke marijuana while at North Alabama.
Despite those issues, Fisher and the St. Louis front office elected to take a chance and use a high pick on Jenkins.
He didn't disappoint through the first nine weeks of his rookie season. There were no off-field issues, and his play was stellar most of the time.
Combining with free-agent acquisition Cortland Finnegan, Jenkins catapulted the Rams' horrendous secondary from a year ago into a unit that ranks in the top 15 in passing yards allowed per game.
With teams throwing at Jenkins because he's a rookie and away from Finnegan because he is one of the NFL's best, Jenkins responded wonderfully with 41 tackles, nine passes defended and an interception. He clearly matches up well with most wide receivers and is extremely aggressive against the run.
Jenkins is everything at the professional level that the Rams thought he could be after what he showed in college, but it appears the off-field concerns may have carried over as well.
Perhaps it was only a matter of time. After all, Jenkins has clearly shown a propensity to continue bad habits despite the danger the risk to his future, not to mention the impact it could have on the team that took a risk on him.
Fisher and the Rams knew what they were getting. Jenkins was a high-risk, high-reward decision. He's made good on his on-field ability, but whether this broken rules issue is the start of something more or simply a bump in the road remains to be seen.
The Rams have done just fine with the Jenkins' gamble for now. But could the organization end up regretting the decision? Absolutely.
How things move forward for both Jenkins and the Rams is a shared responsibility from this point forward.
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