Draft Profile: DT – John Jenkins
DT Johnathan Jenkins out of Georgia is a player the 49ers could target at No. 31. With Justin Smith getting older and Ricky Jean-Francois and Isaac Sopoaga free agents, Williams is a perfect player to take over the defensive line for years to come. Click the tabs to see the profile from CBS Sports and NFL.com
Blessed with great size and surprising overall athleticism, it should come as no surprise that Jenkins was one of the more highly regarded junior college prospects in the country when he left Gulf Coast Community College in 2009. Despite being the focus of every opponents’ blocking scheme, Jenkins recorded 41 tackles and two sacks while with GCCC and was recruited by virtually every program in the country.
Jenkins made an immediate impact in the middle for the Bulldogs, appearing in 14 games and earning seven starts. He registered 28 tackles, including six tackles for loss and three sacks. The highlight of his junior season — recording an interception that appeared to put Georgia in position to win the Outback Bowl — also served as a lowlight as he suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the rest of the game. The Bulldogs, up 27-20 with 3:56 remaining and in possession of the football, would go on to lose in triple overtime.
Jenkins considered leaving for the NFL after just one season but ultimately elected to return for his senior campaign. While overshadowed by a number of high profile defenders on the Bulldogs’ roster, he played a critical part in Georgia earning a trip to the SEC Championship Game, earning Second Team All-SEC honors (as voted by the coaches) with 50 tackles, two tackles for a loss and fumble recovery in 2012.
At his size, Jenkins isn’t going to be counted on to provide much pressure on quarterbacks. His primary duty will be to clog up running lanes in the interior. He’s quite good in this role and provides just enough of a threat to quarterbacks that he’s likely to hear his name called in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.
STRENGTHS: Built like a Coke machine and is just as difficult to move. Has a wide frame with thick, strong limbs. Good strength and use of leverage (generally) to hold up to double-teams and create a pile. Surprisingly quick off the snap and can split gaps to destroy plays before they’ve even begun.
Good lateral agility, balance to slide laterally in pursuit of the ballcarrier to string out the play while fighting off blockers. Keeps his hands active, showing good effort, strength and technique to battle his ways towards the quarterback.
Good bull rusher. Can simply drive opponents backward. Locates the ball well and shows good effort to the flanks. Slips off of blocks to grab on and drag down ballcarriers attempting to slip past him. Very good strength for the drag-down tackle.
Versatile. Has lined up virtually all over the Georgia defensive line. Appears to possess long enough arms to potentially play the five-technique role, as well as at nose guard or defensive tackle.
WEAKNESSES: Provides little in terms of an interior pass rush. Is simply too wide to not get slowed down while squeezing through tight gaps in the interior line and has only phone booth quickness.
Wears down quickly and will need to be substituted often to be fully effective in the NFL. Allows his pad level to rise as he tires, which negates his strength.
COMPARES TO: B.J. Raji, NG, Green Bay Packers — Like the former Boston College standout, Jenkins’ mass and strength are the most obvious of his impressive physical characteristics, but surprisingly light feet and willingness to fight through blocks to provide some interior pass rush are attributes which could lead to a steady ascent as the draft approaches.
Jenkins had his pick of elite Football Bowl Subdivision schools coming out of Gulf Coast Community College in Mississippi after the 2010 season. The four-star recruit passed up Auburn, Miami and other programs to join the Bulldogs, and had a hand in their SEC East championship in his first year on campus. The Bulldogs hoped he can be as big a difference-maker at nose tackle as another junior college transfer, Terrence Cody, was for Alabama in their 2009 BCS championship season. Jenkins’ build is not as sloppy as that of “Mount Cody,” and his pure width and athleticism makes him an intriguing prospect.
The Connecticut native was slowed down a bit in the 2011 preseason with a hamstring injury, and also suffered from heat exhaustion in his first August practice. But he played in every game, starting seven of the last nine contests while accumulating 28 tackles, six for loss and three sacks while facing constant double teams. The school also credited him with 10 quarterback pressures, a large number for a large man. His role continued to grow for his senior season (50 tackles, two for loss, one sack) as he played a number of positions along Georgia’s 3-4 defense.
STRENGTHS: Nose tackle prospect with an expansive chest, good length, and a solid overall build. Capable of keeping the line against strong single blocks and double teams, finding the ball and moving within the box to be part of the stop. Flashes decent agility for his size. Capable of pressing the pocket with pure brute strength and a solid get-off, also uses his hands when one-on-one to rip aside blockers and attack the backfield. Can overwhelm single blocks simply with his massive size and frame. Has a quick shake to get a gap against guards in pass protection and the foot quickness and hustle to adjust to moving quarterbacks in the pocket.
WEAKNESSES: Thin and narrow built lower body, which contributes to waist bending and poor balance. Ends up on the ground more than you’d like. Susceptible to cut blocks and doesn’t deal well with trash at his feet, though he gives good effort to recover and return to the play. Quickness is decent for his size, but he offers little as an interior pass rusher and will be a two down player in the NFL. Stops on contact with double teams at times instead of pushing through. Plays tall and is slow off the snap, will lose upper-body strength battles to get off-balance. Doesn’t fight for inside hand position. As a result, gets rooted out too often by smaller offensive linemen who get underneath his pads and out-leverage him. Could be more consistent shedding to grab ball carriers coming through holes inside.
NFL COMPARISON: Gabe Watson
BOTTOM LINE: Jenkins is a massive junior college transfer with great upside as a run-stuffer, but is limited to being a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme because of his lack of quickness. His impressive size and strength will likely make him coveted, but needs to improve his balance and pad-level.