||04-12-2012 06:31 PM
Janoris Jenkins Was Still Smoking at North Alabama
Janoris Jenkins disputes an NFL.com report that he was still smoking marijuana at North Alabama last season.
"I wasn't smoking marijuana at North Alabama," he said. "... I want to know why all of a sudden this is out there. Why didn't it come out after the Combine when I was straightforward with the scouts? The timing is very interesting to me." Jenkins' defensive coordinator backs up his story, insisting the cornerback did nothing to violate his zero-tolerance policy. While there's little doubt that Jenkins' stock has taken a hit due to character concerns, the latest report about his drug usage could well be a smokescreen.
NFL executives and scouts were watching closely as Jenkins, one of the nation's best cover corners, migrated to Div. II North Alabama last year. His play was consistent with how he performed in three years as a Gator. But so were his off-field actions, which have included three arrests, positive drug tests, and four children with three women.
"It's not just his personal situation with the kids and different moms. This is a multiple offender of the drug policy in college, and it's not like there were no character concerns at North Alabama," said one AFC personnel executive. "He had multiple opportunities to get away from it. He didn't at Florida, and he went to North Alabama and he wasn't clean there.
"You just wish the situation at North Alabama was clean, that he had a rebirth, from a personal and football character standpoint. But it was more of the same."
Presented with the claims laid out by numerous NFL executives and scouts in this story, Jenkins' agent Malik Shareef provided a statement.
"Our talks with league GMs and scouts have been overwhelmingly positive," the agent said. "Most of these scouts believe that Janoris is the top cover corner in the draft and have been impressed with the way he has handled himself through the pre-draft process, from the Senior Bowl to the combine to team visits. He's been open and honest about his mistakes and has learned from them. He has demonstrated that he's fully dedicated to fulfilling his dreams of being a professional football player.
Wouldn't touch him in the first round'
Executives agreed that he is talented and has been honest about his issues, though it continues to trouble them that the drug use, by Jenkins' own admission, wasn't curtailed after he was thrown off Florida's team by coach Will Muschamp
"He's running with the wrong people," an NFC personnel executive said. "They gave him every chance in the world at Florida, and it didn't work. … And he gets to North Alabama, and he's still smoking because he's got this big-fish, little-pond thing going. I don't see him going in the first round, and a lot of teams have him off their board completely."
"Football-wise, people like [Jenkins]. He loves football, he competes and he's tough," said a second NFC executive. "But he's an immature kid. You see a lot of problems. ... With Dez, the biggest issue was that whether he was smart enough to figure out what he didn't know. That's when the NFL becomes too big for a kid, where maybe he's not a bad kid, but he's just not equipped to handle the rigors of being a pro athlete."
An AFC college scout made it simpler regarding Jenkins: "He's not a bad person. He just makes a lot of dumb, dumb mistakes. He just smokes and (has sex), and that's essentially what it is. … And there's just awful decision-making associated with that. I don't think he's a bad person. But he has a lot of soul-searching to do. I wouldn't touch him in the first round."
The testing isn't the issue in the minds of NFL decision-makers. After all, Jenkins has been open with them about his actions at North Alabama. They're aware that, even if he did pass the tests, his behavior didn't change.
"The problem is, at least my impression was, he doesn't see the error in his ways," said another AFC personnel director. "He came off like he doesn't see an issue with any of it. He doesn't think it's a big deal. And he thinks he's got it under control. … But Janoris' problems go far beyond the drug use. He's got four babies by three mamas, and he's not even in the league yet. That invites tons of problems and will make him a target when he gets into the league, too."
'He may be the best'
So where does this leave Jenkins? From a physical standpoint, he's tantalizing. And the fact that he possesses a premium skill, elite man-to-man coverage ability, likely will prevent the kind of free fall Hernandez experienced in 2010, a tumble that ended in the middle of the fourth round.
All of the executives, personnel men and scouts reached for this story said, from a strictly on-field standpoint, LSU's Morris Claiborne is the only player at the position they'd rank in front of Jenkins, whose size (5-foot-10, 193 pounds) seems to be his lone physical drawback.
"Physically, he may be the best," said another AFC college scout. "It's either him or Claiborne. But if someone takes him in the first round, I'm telling you right now, I'm gonna think it's a dumb move. … I wouldn't touch him in the first round under any circumstance."
Speculation holds that either Cincinnati or New England, both of whom have multiple first-round picks and a history of taking chances on players with character concerns, could be the team that takes Jenkins. The Rams are another logical landing spot -- Jenkins was in St. Louis on Monday, and the team has two high second-round picks and a coach in Jeff Fisher who's experienced in dealing with troubled young players
I hope he falls to the 2nd or 3rd round and the titans draft him.