Thoughts and observations: Brandon Jenkins

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Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim

Taking a look at the Redskins fifth-round pick Brandon Jenkins, an end from Florida State who will be converted to outside linebacker, after watching a number of his games and highlights, thanks in part to the videos posted on Draft Breakdown. Keep in mind this is based off a TV feed but it still reveals a lot about his game.

 

  1. Brandon Jenkins primarily rushed from right end, though the Seminoles would switch it up on occasion. He rushed from a stand-up position as a junior, usually from the right side. He did rush from the left side once in a great while. In the six games I watched, over a span of two seasons I saw him rush from an inside linebacker’s spot once (he rushed at the left guard who drove him back a couple yards). He also dropped into coverage on occasion, though the only pass I saw thrown in his general area was over the top. I did not see him have to cover anyone, as he would in a 3-4 OLB role in the NFL (perhaps he did in other games; was not on the games I saw). And I’d like to have seen him have to tackle a runner in the open field. But …
  2. My guess is that he’ll be groomed for a Darryl Tapp sort of role, a pass-rusher only, while they try to teach him the position. There’s a lot that Jenkins has to learn, but it’s more than that: he needs to add strength, get used to taking on blockers and playing off them and covering. For now, he looks like a situational rusher only. But the Redskins could use that (it’s what they hoped Markus White would become). As long as Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo remain healthy, then an extra pass-rusher is all they need. Besides, in this role he might be able to rush with his hand in the dirt from a three- or four-point stance. He looked a little more explosive in college out of the four-point. But Jenkins did show the ability to change directions quickly — he recorded some sacks off stunts because of this – and he does a good job staying with the play until it’s over. He has tools that would have made him a higher pick if healthy. But a first-rounder? Jenkins would have to have shown better in 2012 than he did in ’11 to reach that status. Still, because of his quick first step, ability to turn the corner and flexibility, he’d have definitely gone higher than the fifth. The Lisfranc injury this past year altered his status without a doubt.
  3. The added strength is a must. Jenkins managed 18 reps benching 225 pounds at the combine; Margus Hunt (had a mistake earlier and said Dion Jordan), by comparison, did a combine-high 38 reps. Also, 38 defensive linemen performed this drill at the combine and only two had fewer reps than Jenkins (21 of 26 linebackers benched more). I know that’s only one measure of strength and a strong lower body compensates, along with technique. But too often Jenkins looked easy to control at the point of attack. Some of it is technique; on one play where he seemed to get inside leverage he lost his base: his feet were too outstretched and his backside lost all power. A tight end then turned him inside. This will be a major focal point if he wants to do anything. He’ll need to add more pop to his rush.
  4. It can be hard to measure pass rushers. I remember talking to a general manager several years ago and his take: It’s tough because there aren’t many good left tackles, so you don’t always know if it was a great move, a great burst or if the tackle just stunk.
  5. It wasn’t as if Jenkins received extra attention in all of his games in 2011 compared to the previous year when he recorded 13 ½ sacks. Against Clemson in ’11, for example, he was occasionally chipped or doubled, but not often. So he had chances.
  6. Jenkins told us on a conference call that he did not have as strong a year in 2011 as he did in 2010 in part because he felt heavier. Having watched games from both seasons, there’s no doubt he ran better in 2010 than in ’11. No doubt. I’d watched a couple games from his 2011 season and then put on another game. He looked fast enough that I checked the date to see if it was the same year; it wasn’t, instead it was the bowl game vs. Notre Dame after the previous season. It wasn’t just a burst off the line, it was the ability to make plays down the line or to help on plays downfield. In 2011, he ran heavier. We’re only talking 10 or so pounds, but it did make a difference. Orakpo is listed at 257 pounds and Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said the other day that this is the weight Jenkins played at in 2010.
  7. One of his best plays vs. the run came as a stand-up ‘backer. As Clemson’s pulling guard came around, Jenkins showed his athleticism by bending low, taking on the guard (who could not get that low) and reaching inside to make a tackle at the ball carrier’s feet.
  8. He showed flashes as a rusher, but would need to become more consistent in his moves and fundamentals. In 2010 he could speed past a tackle, which he occasionally did the following year. He’d sometimes be too high when engaging the tackle so a bull rush would be ineffective. That did not happen all the time. He did beat the Clemson left tackle on a fake dip of the shoulder; when the tackle fell for it and tried to engage he was bent too far at the waist and Jenkins sped around. Jenkins used a spin move that was sometimes effective and resulted in sacks. There were a couple times he’d start his spin a bit early (or too high) and the tackle could easily react. But it’s at least part of his repertoire and was good at times.
  9. Some examples of plays he made in ’10 that wasn’t evident in the games I saw from 2011: Against South Carolina, he was two yards behind the QB, Stephen Garcia, after his rush when Garcia started upfield; Jenkins caught up to him from behind to stop him for maybe a yard gain. Another time vs. Virginia Tech, he dropped into coverage on a straight-dropback by the QB. But the QB was pushed to his left and threw on the run about 10 yards beyond Jenkins. But Jenkins turned and ran and helped tackle the receiver (who had to pause to make a move). Finally, he shot inside a tight end’s block, slanting to the left and caught the ball carrier running through the right side for a two-yard gain.
  10. A small but meaningful thing I liked: Jenkins played on the punt coverage team – looked like he lined up on the end of the line — and in a game vs. Notre Dame (bowl game after the ’11 season) he was the first one downfield (they didn’t always show the punts) and another time on a long punt in that game he was the second man down and was involved in the tackle. Clearly he can run (4.65 in the 40-yard dash at the combine) and has athleticism. If nothing else he could become a situational rusher and special teams performer. Special teams always benefit from big men who can run. It’s why Lorenzo Alexander is so good on special teams.  To go beyond that he’ll need to refine his game and get stronger. The good news for Jenkins and the Redskins: It does not sound as if he’ll need to be pushed to work hard or coached hard.

 

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John Keim

Staff Reporter - Washington Redskins
The Washington Examiner