A.J. Jenkins Trade: Visual Breakdown of Kansas City Chiefs' New Target
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
[And just so "that guy" doesn't engulf the comment section with an all-caps rant: spoiler alert!]
Fans' second reaction? "Who's A.J. Jenkins?"
The newest Kansas Citian shares a number of similarities with Baldwin: He's a first-round receiver who failed to meet expectations and cashed checks in the name of potential.
But that's where the commonalities end.
On the field, Jenkins and Baldwin are polar opposites.
Kansas City's former draftee is a towering, physically imposing receiver whose lackadaisical route-running leads to sluggish breaks and nonexistent separation. Baldwin can reel in a catch worthy of a "He did what?" encore by Al Michaels. He can also drop the ball quicker than a groom-to-be armed with a Jager flask.
I present to you, Exhibit A:
But enough about Baldwin. Back to the newest weapon in Andy Reid's arsenal.
A.J. Jenkins is a 6'0", 192-pound standout whose stock skyrocketed throughout his senior season at Illinois.
Breaking down Jenkins' game reveals a treasure trove of talent that's in desperate need of some guidance.
Speed and Agility
Jenkins' most unique asset is his speed.
If corners give Jenkins a cushion and there's no safety valve behind them, they'll be better off conserving their energy by walking to the sideline.
Here, Arizona State's defender commits the cardinal sin of coverage: He studies Jenkins' head movement as opposed to his hip movement. The cornerback bites on a head fake, which results in his hips being parallel to the outer sideline.
By the time he corrects his mistake, Jenkins is well behind him:
In the next clip, the Oregon State player is dusted due to his jerky backpedaling technique. He attempts to bump Jenkins after five yards, but the wideout flips on the afterburners:
No. 17 ran the same route against Denver in Week 1 of the 2013 preseason. The only difference is that the cornerback is aligned on Jenkins' outside shoulder, forcing the receiver inside toward the support. Even though separation was created, Colt McCoy's heave had too much air under it:
Jenkins isn't as dangerous in space as he's capable of becoming. He has a tendency to dance in the open field, which allows the defensive pursuit to close in and contain him.
When he continues to run vertically, the newcomer's fleet-footedness is all but guaranteed to make the first defender whiff:
Jenkins is capable of maturing into a first-class route-runner. He's incredibly meticulous in his techniques—at times to a fault—and his breaks are crisp but fluid.
His brand of speed demands respect, which opens the door for comeback and slant routes.
The former Illinois star is also nothing short of voracious in planting and selling his assignment:
However, there's one glaring hole within this facet of Jenkins' repertoire: his release.
The wideout's future effectiveness will largely hinge on his strength. At the Combine, Jenkins only managed to churn out 12 reps at 225 pounds; Dexter McCluster accounted for 20. Kansas City's newest addition is weaker and three inches taller than the Chiefs' shifty slot receiver, making it that much easier for cornerbacks to bully him at the line of scrimmage.
On Saturdays, shuffling at the line of scrimmage leads to temporary separation and a reception:
On Sundays, it gets you jammed and receiving an earful of four-letter sentiments from your coach:
Jenkins may not be the stoutest individual on the field nor the most tough-minded. But if the Jaws of Life attempted to pry a football from his hands, a name change and obituary would follow.
If there's a deep ball that's over his shoulder and hugging the sideline, Jenkins will secure it with both feet in bounds:
If a 200-pound security blanket is draped on him? Not a problem:
Cornerbacks goring him in the ribs?
Even beelining safeties with a clear line of fire can't divorce the pigskin from his set of stubborn gloves:
Despite the fact that Baldwin is roughly 20 pounds shy of toting a tight end's frame—which, honestly, is probably the position best suited for his skill set—he often contracts a case of alligator arms when sensing a defender barreling his way.
Although Jenkins measures four inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter, he snatches passes like it's a point of pride.
Jenkins' intangibles will have the final say in whether he evolves into a worthwhile investment or hopeless afterthought.
While he won't enjoy consistent success before hitting the weight room and refining his release techniques, time and external motivation can overcome those hurdles.
Personal motivation will dictate which way the pendulum swings, though, according to ProFootballTalk:
Vernon Davis thinks A.J. Jenkins can bounce back, if he changes his approach http://t.co/u7o09RjZ6V— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 19, 2013
The Pro Bowl tight end offered:
I'm just talking away from the game. As far as studying habits - I think he had good study habits when he was here. Studying, being a professional, trying to help himself as well as helping other guys, the younger guys that come in. And just owning his position, embracing it and just going to the next level. ... If he really wants it inside his heart, it will work out for him. It will pay dividends.
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