Pre-Combine: Under-the-Radar Prospect Jelani Jenkins

Manny GeraldoCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2013

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 10: Linebacker Jelani Jenkins #3 of the Florida Gators celebrates with fans after returning a blocked punt for a game-winning touchdown against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns November 10, 2012 in Gainesville, Florida. Florida won 27 - 20. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Position: Outside Linebacker

School: Florida

Height: 6'

Weight: 237 pounds

This year's NFL draft is ripe with outside linebackers. While Georgia's Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree will hear their name called in the first round, there is a pool of outside linebackers that will drafted on Day 2 and 3. The upcoming NFL Combine will showcase these players as they prove their worth with running, lifting and agility drills. 

One player who is floating under the radar is Florida's Jelani Jenkins. The underclassman from Olney, Md. finished his Gators career with 182 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and three interceptions in 31 starts.

Nagging injuries derailed what should have been a great 2012 season for junior Jelani Jenkins. However, those who watched the linebacker play in 2010 and 2011 know how good he is when healthy. As a redshirt freshman in 2010, Jenkins posted 76 tackles, two sacks and an interception. In 2011, he recorded 75 tackles, two sacks, one interception and six pass deflections. 

In an era where off-the-field problems doom so many players, Jenkins reflects the maturity and character that NFL coaches love. He not only possesses the physical tools to play the game, but the cerebral tools, as well. Jenkins is best fit in a 4-3 defense where his speed, athleticism and ability to play in pass coverage will be fully utilized. 

As of now, Jenkins is projected anywhere from the late second round to the third round. While his injuries will surely concern scouts, if he dazzles at the upcoming NFL Combine and the Florida pro-day, he will climb the boards. Jenkins' speed is incredible at the linebacker position, and a good showing on the strength drills could catapult him into Day 2 of the NFL draft. Teams running a 4-3 defense in need of an outside linebacker are the Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons.