AJ JENKINS, WR, ILLINOIS
TRIANGLE NUMBERS: 6, 190, 4.5
Possesses average height for the position with a thin frame. However, displays a real savvy about his game when asked to find soft spots in coverage. Works his back toward the quarterback, understands angles and is always finding himself open vs. zone. Is also very coordinated when asked to adjust to the throw. Does a nice job extending his arms, plucking the football away from his frame and coming down with the catch. Displays good body control along the sideline as well, knowing where he’s located, maintaining concentration and keeping his feet in bounds. Possesses good straight-line speed. Looks like a low 4.4 guy and is a potential vertical threat at the next level. Accelerates well underneath on crossing patterns and can run away from defenders in man coverage.
Does a nice job stemming his route off the line, doesn’t tip his hand early. Has a “plus” initial burst when asked to eat up the cushion and can accelerate a bit when changing direction. However, gets leggy out of his routes. Rounds off his breaks consistently and isn’t real clean when trying to change directions on sharply breaking routes. But, possesses “plus” burst down the field out of his break on vertical routes and does a nice job being patient setting up his breaks. Hasn’t been asked to handle much press coverage and/or even man coverage for that matter playing in the Illinois spread offense. Is going to need time to get used to seeing defenders up in his grill. Doesn’t seem overly physical or quick in order to handle press however.
Impression: Has a nice feel for the game, plucks the football well and has the speed to run away from defenders. Is a developing route runner who looks a bit limited in that area, but in the right offense he should be able to create as a reserve down the field.
Strengths: Jenkins is a master at finding soft spots in coverage. I love his football IQ as he finds ways to get open and shows a route running savvy that is rare. He has very good speed that could lend itself to being a vertical threat in the NFL. He is a hands catcher that doesn’t often put the ball on the ground. He has very good body control on the sidelines and in the air. His speed make him dangerous in the open field and on crossing patterns as he’s able to run away from man coverage. He could be a dangerous receiver in the West Coast offense working the crossing routes.
Weaknesses: Jenkins is a savvy route runner but lacks the refinement in technique. He runs through breaks rather than selling them as he relies on his straight-line speed. Doesn’t often face press man coverage which could be an issue in the NFL with a thinner frame. Strength at the line will need to be test in the pre-draft process.
Bottom Line: Jenkins could have some value for a team in need of a speed receiver that can work the underneath crossing patterns with the best of them. I like Jenkins for teams like Green Bay and Cleveland that utilize underneath crossing routes that rely on yards after the catch. Jenkins thin frame and durability could be a concern.
Draft Projection: Jenkins will be a good value in the middle of round 3.
Former Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins was a two-year starter with the Fightin’ Illini. Using his elite speed, Jenkins was a top notch deep threat.
Jenkins relies on his athleticism to get open. He doesn’t run clean routes and needs to focus on the finer details of the game. When not jammed at the line, he’s a real handful. Most teams went after him with bump and run coverage, which threw off his timing and got him off his spot. Jenkins has above average hands and does well to catch the ball away from his body. He isn’t a big leaper, but he’s explosive and will usually come away with the ball.
Most of the concerns with Jenkins revolve around consistency and effort. He likes to use the same one or two moves to avoid the jam at the line, as an example. In the NFL, those kind of habits can lose games. He needs to learn how to play every snap hard. He gets off the line very well and has a clean change of direction. He has problems against physical corners who jam at the line.
Jenkins’ ability to find the open spots in the zone and his speed will attract serious attention in the 2012 NFL Draft
[pro-player width='530' height='253' type='video']http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O931W3wadpY[/pro-player]
AJ Jenkins is an interesting wide receiver prospect. Played in a spread system. Deep threat. Athletic. Good size, although needs to put on some pounds. Fast. Gets open. Needs to adjust to a pro system and needs to get more physical and needs to adjust to physical play. But obviously has a lot of talent. Not sure if he can contribute that much year one, but has a nice skill set that can be developed. 2nd or 3rd rounder. Do the Giants want to develop a guy like him or do they want a ready made guy? I’d lean towards the latter, but Jenkins has a great skill set. Take a flyer? Why not. Can’t hurt. Intriguing prospect.