During OTAs and minicamp, there was a lot of focus on the three defensive backs the Redskins drafted in April. It is expected that David Amerson, Bacarri Rambo or Phillip Tomas will play a key role in the defense. Perhaps all of them will.
The other defensive player the Redskins drafted, outside linebacker Brandon Jenkins, flew under the radar in Ashburn this spring. The starters at his position, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, are set. Rob Jackson will be the primary backup. The general thinking was that this will be a learning year for Jenkins.
But that conventional wisdom may be wrong. The team may have a role planned out for Jenkins.
Jim Haslett was asked if he would try to get Orakpo, Kerrigan, and Jackson on the field at the same time. He said that they could but he added a fourth name to the mix.
“The question is can you get four of those guys on the field at the same time, because you’ve got to add the young guy [Jenkins] too,” he said. “So we’ll see. Yeah, I mean, if there’s a way to get everybody on the field, we’ll find a way.”
This would seem to indicate that they are going to find some packages for Jenkins and give him a chance to get after the quarterback.
Do you want more evidence that Jenkins may see some significant action this year? Look at this from Dan Graziano on the ESPN NFC East blog:
Jenkins was a player Mike Shanahan brought up when I was in Shanahan's office last week talking about this year's defense. Shanahan believes Jenkins can be a help to the pass rush right away as a standup outside linebacker in the team's 3-4 defense. He said Jenkins "looks like an excellent pass-rusher," and sounded as though he'd been more impressed than he expected to be during the offseason workout program.
Haslett said that he likes what he has seen from Jenkins. He was on track to come out as a much higher draft pick. “He had 13-and-a-half sacks as a junior, 10-and-a-half as a sophomore, projected as a first-round pick at one point and obviously he broke his foot and had one sack in one game [in 2012],” said Haslett.
The issue with Jenkins’ foot was a Lisfranc injury. He ended up being drafted in the fifth round by the Redskins. It appears that he has been able to put it behind him. He was able to participate in all of the OTA sessions and minicamp that the media were able to attend.
What could Jenkins do if given a chance? The Redskins likely would put him on the field in a few packages, keeping things simple initially while he learns the nuances of the defense. There is no reason why a rookie pass rusher can’t be productive. Since the 2000 season, 67 players have recorded five or more sacks as a rookie.
With pass rushers in high demand around the league, almost anything they could get out of Jenkins will be a bonus. And Haslett seems inclined to give him a shot.
“He’s a guy you can bring in the mix. I don’t think you can have enough pass rushers,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”