Draft review: LB Brandon Jenkins

Draft review: LB Brandon Jenkins
May 2, 2013, 10:45 am
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The Redskins took a few risks last weekend, and selecting pass rusher Brandon Jenkins in the fifth round can be counted as one of them.

Jenkins has played exactly 1 ½ quarters of football in the past 17 months because of a serious injury to his left foot that he suffered in Florida State’s 2012 season opener. But there is some encouraging news as my esteemed colleague Rich Tandler pointed out last week:

A Lisfranc injury, a fracture or dislocation where the upper and lower foot bones meet, used to be an injury that could put a serious crimp in a football player’s career. However, new medical technology has improved both the recovery time and quality of the repairs. If the injury that Jenkins suffered last September … heals to the point where he is as good as new, he could be a major steal in this draft. Quality pass rushers usually come off the board early.

Indeed, Jenkins had put himself on track to be a first or second round pick. As a sophomore, the Tallahassee native garnered first team All-ACC honors after racking up 63 tackles, including 21.5 for loss and 13.5 sacks. Facing more double teams as a junior, though, his numbers declined to 41 tackles and eight sacks.

Jenkins returned for his senior season in the hopes of cementing a spot in the first round. Instead, his campaign ended after a teammate inadvertently stepped on his foot in the second quarter of a 69-3 win over Murray State. Jenkins was eligible for a medical red shirt, but opted to enter the NFL draft and left Florida State with a degree with in Sociology.

“We had him ranked fairly high,” Coach Mike Shanahan said. “Would he have gone in the first round of second round if not for the injury? I don’t know. But he was impressive.”

Jenkins says the injury is “100 percent” healed. We should get a much clearer idea of where he stands after this weekend’s rookie minicamp in Ashburn.

What we do know is this: When healthy, Jenkins projects as a prolific pass rusher. (And considering that he was chosen with the pick the Redskins acquired from New England in exchange for Albert Haynesworth, he's already a steal.)

NFLDraftScout.com compares Jenkins to the Colts’ Robert Mathis, adding that he shows great speed off the edge but at 6-3, 251, needs to add bulk and strength.

Possesses a long, lanky build with room for additional muscle gain. Has an explosive first step off the snap, which quickly can put the offensive tackle on his heels and in recovery mode. Closes quickly and can provide an explosive pop due to the momentum he gains.

Questionable instincts as a linebacker convert. Moderate recognition of misdirection plays such as screens and draws. Relies on his quickness to zip past the offensive tackle and beat backs to the edge against wide running plays. 

NFL.com, meantime, compares Jenkins to the Packers’ Nick Perry.

Possesses very good initial quickness, eats up grass with long strides, and has the flexibility to turn the corner as a pass rusher. Has length and upper-body strength to rip off blocks and throw quarterbacks and running backs to the ground. Also displays the power to get lesser linemen on their heels. Not contact-shy playing the run, will stick his shoulder to keep leverage against single blocker and double teams to hold the line.

This video of Jenkins’ 2011 highlights will give you a good sense for what he can do when healthy.

This one focuses on Jenkins’ two-tackle, one-sack performance in the Seminoles’ 18-14 victory over Notre Dame in the 2011 Champs Sports bowl game.

It’s difficult to project how Jenkins fits into the Redskins’ plans without knowing the precise status of his foot. But with Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and Rob Jackson presumably the top three outside linebackers on the depth chart, it’s likely Jenkins will be afforded the time to ease into things.