Trent Baalke said that there guy would be there at 30. He was so confident that he put the name into an envelope yesterday and opened it today. The name on that piece of paper was Illinois Wide Receiver AJ Jenkins. And with the 30th pick in the NFL draft they selected him…
Here are scouting reports on Jenkins. 6’0 192 lbs 40 time 4.39
NFL.com Overview: Jenkins was a two year starter at Illinois (while also starting four games over his first two years) for the now-departed Ron Zook and has the speed to take the top off NFL defenses. He separates well when running with defenders and is good in securing the catch. He has fifth-round value at the next level.
Strengths: Jenkins is quick off the ball and gets to top speed quickly. If he gets a free release, he can be tough for corners to stay with initially. He has ability to separate when necessary and is very fluid throughout his routes. His body is strikingly under control throughout, and he has good balance if corners try to push into his hips. Jenkins is willing to go across the middle and always reaches out to pluck the ball. He is effective deep but is less of a threat after the catch. Weaknesses: Jenkins initiates a hard step in, then back out, as his go-to move to release off the line, and corners can see it coming at times and get their hands in his chest to throw him off. He is a smooth runner, but he will take plays off.
CBS Sportsline – Strengths: Jenkins is a balanced athlete with good body control and hand/eye coordination. He plays fast and can create after the catch. Jenkins does a nice job finding soft spots in zone coverage and will immediately turn upfield after the reception. He catches the ball with his large, soft hands and is tough, showing the ability to hold onto the ball after a big hit. Jenkins is a much improved route-runner with sharp moves in/out of his breaks and good field awareness. He uses his body movements to sell routes and makes plays at all levels of the field. Jenkins has a very good feel in coverage and has deceptive jets to gain a step and track the deep ball downfield. He put together a strong senior resume, leading the Big Ten in catches (84) and emerged as Illinois’ go-to option through the air – producing at least four catches in every game in 2011 and set a new single game school record with 268 receiving yards (vs. Northwestern, 10/1/11).
Weaknesses: Jenkins has only average size with a narrow body type and a lean, lanky frame. He needs to spend more time in the weight room and get stronger. Jenkins’ lack of strength has been exposed in a few jump-ball situations and he needs to be more competitive in tight coverage. He tends to round off some patterns and will get lazy in this area, choosing instead to abandon his routes and freelance at times. Jenkins will hold the ball too loose from his body and needs to improve his ball security and cut down on fumbles. He will try and make body catches at times, which will lead to drops. Jenkins has some experience as a kick returner, but isn’t overly effective or reliable in this area. The Florida native has struggled in poor weather games, especially snow. He got into a few spats with former head coach Ron Zook and the rest of the Illinois coaching staff, so pre-draft interviews will be crucial to answering any effort or character concerns.
National Football Post – Possesses average height for the position with a thin frame. However, displays a real savvy about his game when asked to find soft spots in coverage. Works his back toward the quarterback, understands angles and is always finding himself open vs. zone. Is also very coordinated when asked to adjust to the throw. Does a nice job extending his arms, plucking the football away from his frame and coming down with the catch. Displays good body control along the sideline as well, knowing where he’s located, maintaining concentration and keeping his feet in bounds.
Possesses good straight-line speed. Looks like a low 4.4 guy and is a potential vertical threat at the next level. Accelerates well underneath on crossing patterns and can run away from defenders in man coverage. Does a nice job stemming his route off the line, doesn’t tip his hand early. Has a “plus” initial burst when asked to eat up the cushion and can accelerate a bit when changing direction. However, gets leggy out of his routes. Rounds off his breaks consistently and isn’t real clean when trying to change directions on sharply breaking routes. But, possesses “plus” burst down the field out of his break on vertical routes and does a nice job being patient setting up his breaks. Hasn’t been asked to handle much press coverage and/or even man coverage for that matter playing in the Illinois spread offense. Is going to need time to get used to seeing defenders up in his grill. Doesn’t seem overly physical or quick in order to handle press however.
Impression: Has a nice feel for the game, plucks the football well and has the speed to run away from defenders. Is a developing route runner who looks a bit limited in that area, but in the right offense he should be able to create as a reserve down the field.