Jelani Jenkins: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Florida OLB
Fellow Florida teammates Sharrif Floyd and Matt Elam may have warranted more of the pre-draft spotlight, but if recent drafting trends are any indication, linebacker Jelani Jenkins may still have a chance to crack the top 100 picks in the 2013 NFL draft.
Somewhat undersized, the ultra-athletic Jenkins can look to players such as Mychal Hendricks and Lavonte David—similarly sized linebackers who went No. 46 and No. 58 in the 2012 draft, respectively—as trail blazers for his potential selection this year.
But will injury issues and inexperience hurt his case to be included with the likes of Hendricks and David?
In the following slides, we'll take a look at everything you need to know about the former Florida outside linebacker.
Full Name: Jelani Jenkins
Birthday: March 13, 1992
Hometown: Olney, Maryland
High School: Our Lady of Good Counsel
Major: Social and Behavior Sciences
Year: Redshirt Junior
Coming out of high school, Jenkins was rated as the nation's best outside linebacker and 10th-best player overall by Rivals.com. He was also named Maryland's Gatorade Player of the Year in both 2007 and 2008, thanks in large part to 38 rushing touchdowns and his title as the state's best defensive player.
According to his Florida profile, Jenkins was a first-team all-state selection in Maryland and was invited to play in the Under Armour All-American game in 2008.
Jenkins played in just two games as a true freshman, tallying two total tackles, including one for a loss, before being given his official redshirt.
The next season, he emerged as a starter at both middle and weak-side linebacker and recorded 76 tackles (4.5 for loss), two sacks and an interception. He was named to the SEC's All-Freshman team.
Jenkins best college season came as a redshirt sophomore, when he registered a career-high 75 tackles (six for loss), two sacks, one interception (75-yard touchdown), six passes defensed and a forced fumble. He started 12 games, all at weak-side linebacker.
His junior season was marred by injury. Jenkins started eight games, recording just 29 tackles in the process. He also contributed two sacks, one interception and a blocked punt return for a touchdown.
Weight: 243 lbs.
Arm Length: 32.25"
Hand Size: 9.375"
40-yard dash: N/A
Vertical jump: N/A
Bench press: 27 reps
40-yard dash: 4.65 seconds
Thanks to continuing rehab on his surgically repaired foot, Jenkins chose to only participate in the bench press at the NFL combine. He put up an impressive 27 reps at 225 pounds.
At his official pro day in mid-March, Jenkins ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds—an encouraging time that coincides with the kind of athlete Jenkins is on the field.
According to his Florida profile, Jenkins rushed for 22 touchdowns on just 87 carries as a high school senior. He was also a standout sprinter, having been timed in the 40-yard dash in the 4.4-second range before landing in Gainesville.
His return of a blocked punt versus Louisiana-Lafayette for a touchdown in 2012 helped ward off an upset attempt. With the game tied at 20, Jenkins picked up the loose ball and scored a 36-yard touchdown with just two seconds left on the fourth-quarter clock to secure the win.
In 2008, Jenkins was named as one of the five finalists for the Watkins award, which is awarded annually to the "Premier African-American Male Scholar Athlete" in the country. His high school GPA was above a 4.0, thanks to weighted advanced placement classes. He was also named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 2010.
NFL.com rates Jenkins as the 19th-best linebacker in the 2013 class. His player comparison is Nick Roach, a former undrafted free agent who played six years with the Chicago Bears before landing in Oakland this offseason.
Here's their "bottom line" scouting report for the 6'0", 243-pound junior:
When healthy, Jenkins is a dynamic athlete who possesses great value with his ability to cover. However, he's had a hard time staying healthy, and struggles when run at.
CBS Sports has a similar profile of Jenkins, comparing him to current Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Geno Hayes. A former sixth-round pick, Hayes started for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before signing in Jacksonville in April.
Rob Rang lists the following as Jenkins' strengths:
Possesses a compact build, which makes him stouter than his height might indicate. Extremely aggressive, especially against the run. Attacks the line of scrimmage, showing the ability to slip gaps and make impressive tackles for loss. Has great speed to the edges. Flashes explosive hitting ability and generally has done a nice job of making the wrap-up tackle over his career, though this wasn't always the case in 2012. Good athleticism in coverage, showing the agility and speed to handle this role in the NFL.
CBS has Jenkins as a fifth-round prospect.