Janoris Jenkins: Mr. Everything

"Janoris Jenkins"

USA Today Images

For cornerbacks coming into the league today, the gold standard of measurement happens to be Tampa Bay Buccaneers corner Darrelle Revis. And rightfully so. His versatility coupled with his vastly-superior technique makes him him pretty much peerless in today’s NFL. Second year St. Louis Rams corner Janoris Jenkins happens to possess a lot of the same attributes as “Revis Island”. With a little more seasoning I can certainly see him being the heir to the throne. He’s that good!

Darrelle Revis has made a name for himself by making opposing receivers disappear from the stat sheet. His brand of man to man coverage is physical, relentless, and efficient. His versatility lends a monumental part in that. It’s hard to say what part of the game Revis excels at most. His off-man coverage is on par with his press-man coverage. He could be a star in a ‘cover 2’ zone based system. I’m convinced he could be moved to safety when his athleticism starts to erode later in his career – due to his exorbitant tackling prowess. He truly has no weakness. 

Watching Janoris Jenkins since his freshman year at the University of Florida, I got a sense of a similar makeup to Revis. Jenkins’ versatility was apparent from day one. Becoming just the second true freshman in Florida history to start on opening day, Jenkins was tested early and often, and passed with flying colors.

His overall solid play (three interceptions) as a frosh in 2008, on the other side of future 1st round pick Joe Haden, gave Florida one of the most formidable duos in all of the college football. Playing under head coach Urban Meyer and defensive coordinator Charlie Strong (current Louisville head coach), Jenkins probably got some of the best schooling you could get at the collegiate level for a defensive back. And it showed.

His ability to play zone was unmatched. He was able to track the ball while keeping the play in front of him just like a zone defender should. In man coverage his backpedal was smooth allowing him to get in and out of his breaks. And at 5-foot-10, 195 pounds – his tackling ability was ferocious as well as decisive. He had everything a franchise would look for in a first round corner. Possibly a top 10 pick! Well everything on the football field.

"Janoris Jenkins"

Janoris Jenkins a star among stars (www.usatoday.com)

Off the field Jenkins was a bit of a wildcard. Multiple suspensions and run-ins with the law led to him eventually being dismissed from the team. His subsequent transfer to the lower-level North Alabama did very little to quiet the noise he made on the field. It was clear that some team would take a gamble on this talented yet troubled future star.

Despite what some draftniks saw as a plummeting draft stock, the St. Louis Rams took a flier on Jenkins with the 39th overall selection (2nd round). And boy were they rewarded for their efforts.

Jenkins almost pulled off the defensive rookie of the year award with his 73 tackles, 14 passes defensed, 4 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, and 3 touchdowns! Usually a statline like that warrants Pro Bowl status, but oftentimes rookies have to wait their turn. Jenkins will certainly be on the watchlist for next season. Due to plays like this…

"Janoris Jenkins"

Jenkins is in zone coverage on one of the very best to ever do it in Larry Fitzgerald the Cardinals superstar receiver. His goal is to keep the play in front of him while in zone principles. ‘Fitz’ is running a quick in route.

"Janoris Jenkins"

Jenkins is the master at these types of plays due to his aggressiveness. Right away he reads, diagnoses, and reacts. He sticks that foot in the ground once he does that. He has great vision and isn’t afraid of making a mistake.

"Janoris Jenkins"

He’s a big play waiting to happen. No doubt about it!

 "Janoris Jenkins"

Here we have Jenkins playing off-man with zone principles. He has help over the top so he can ultra-aggressive on the underneath routes.

"Janoris Jenkins"

Even with the motion in front him, Jenkins reads the QB’s eyes. The ability to make use of your peripheral vision is paramount as a cornerback.

"Janoris Jenkins"

Jenkins sees the play developing in front of and comes out of his pedal. This has a chance to be a big play, or a complete disaster.

"Janoris Jenkins"

This is what having great instincts coupled with the ability to study film will get you. The ball is in the air and Jenkins has a path to it.

"Janoris Jenkins"

‘Pick 6’ and a house call for Janoris Jenkins. One of three during his rookie year.

Janoris Jenkins has all the ability to be one of the very best football players regardless of position in the NFL. His innate defensive abilities and overall corner acumen, is uncanny in a multitude of ways. If he’s able to keep his head on straight – I see no reason why he won’t be regarded as one of the best. Reaching Darrelle Revis’ status is a lofty expectation, but Jenkins has shattered the mold many times in his short career.

Author: Uptown Murf

Share This Post On
  • Bex_R1986

    Hi Murf,

    Nice read, and a good player to choose to profile, his play on film appears to match the stats he put up in his rookie year. A key word in the post though is decisiveness, so important to trust your reads, looks like he believes in his ability in coverage. Out of interest (and after not watching too much St. Louis games last year), how often did you see him get burned bad by play attempts similar to those featured above?

    I read your post on Lardarius Webb of the Ravens a couple days ago. How do you compare them as two of the better CB’s in the league right now? Do you consider them similar in play style and would you consider one to be better (or have better upside) than the other to close the gap to Revis?

    • Uptown Murf

      Hey Bex!

      Great questions by you as always!

      Jenkins was beaten a great deal. He’s a gambler. He’s like a homerun hitter. He’s either going to score or he’s going to strikeout. I expect he will eventually settle down, as Antonio Cromartie was like that as well – until he put his play on more even ground. He (Jenkins) is very decisive, and has a ton of confidence in his abilities as a corner should.

      Webb and Jenkins are very similar in their styles. Both are better in zone or off-man. But both can press and have surprising physicality as well. I think Webb is better because he’s more seasoned, but I think Jenkins may have the better upside because he’s a big play waiting to happen. And he had more success earlier in his career.

      It’s a hard comparison as they both are very good imo.

      Thanks for the rebuttal Bex!!

      • Bex_R1986

        Thanks for the response, interesting stuff!

        Given my previous admission that my play count on Jenkins is low, I can’t really make a comparison myself, but that 2011 season from Webb was just exceptional, if he can return to that form then I don’t see many CB’s (Jenkins or others) matching him.

        Great to see Jenkins has made a positive start to his pro career though, especially given the questions on him entering the league. Hope to see it continue, and planning to watch much more of the Rams this year, for the offense as well as I’m really excited about Bradford this year.