Timmy Jernigan is a hard one to work out

September 10th, 2013 | Written by Rob Staton

Last year was a good year for defensive tackles in round one.

Sheldon Richardson (#13 overall) is a future star. When the Jets inevitably move on from Rex Ryan next year and switch to the 4-3, he’ll be dynamic as hell.

Star Lotulelei (#14 overall) had to be checked for suspected heart problems at the combine. Although he was cleared, there’s a chance the stigma carried him into the teens in April. We witnessed on Sunday how disruptive he can be. What a steal for the Panthers.

Sharrif Floyd (#23 overall) was a trendy pick to go in the top five. Short arms plus a lack of pure production and nasty streak led to a fall. Yet he had enough athletic upside to warrant a pick in the 20′s.

Two other pass rushing interior lineman followed quickly — Sly Williams and Kawann Short. You don’t get many drafts with five defensive tackles going in the top-45.

And we almost certainly won’t see it in 2014.

It’s early, but already it’s looking like an miserly group of defensive tackles next year.

Louis Nix is a stud at Notre Dame and could be a top ten pick at the all important nose tackle position. After that, the options aren’t great. Some people like Will Sutton at Arizona State but I’m not a big fan. I’ve not seen enough of LSU’s Anthony Johnson to judge but watching the Tigers last year, nobody looked as good as 2012 first rounder Michael Brockers.

Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan is the only other player currently on the radar until others emerge. And Jernigan is one of the more frustrating players you’ll see this year.

(EDIT — ironically, after writing this piece, I watched tape of one of the best DT performances I’ve seen in a long time… from a name not listed here. More tomorrow).

At 6-2 and 294lbs he looks the part. He’s clearly an athlete. He flashes the occasional pass rush move that makes you sit up and take notice. Yet his overall effort just seems lethargic. He’s not a relentless, beastly tackle like Sheldon Richardson. He lacks the unique physical qualities of Star Lotulelei. He doesn’t have the production of a Kawann Short.

Jernigan’s a player who shows you a bit of leg then runs a mile when you offer to buy a drink.

We’ve seen it before with FSU linemen. It’s hard to explain why. In recent years we’ve seen a handful of players who flatter to deceive.

It’s only four years ago that Carolina gifted San Francisco a first round pick to get back into round two to select Everette Brown. In a 23-sack career with the Seminoles, Brown looked the part as an exciting edge rusher. He used to split out wide and rush from all angles. He did a great job, winning on athleticism rather than effort or technique.

At one point he was considered a possible top-15 pick. At the combine he measured just under 6-2 instead of Florida State’s listed 6-4, and the doubters grew. He ran a 4.65 at 256lbs.

The Panthers were looking for a long term replacement for Julius Peppers, who was demanding a trade and seemed destined to leave when his contract expired. Carolina bought what Everette Brown was selling and made a deal.

In return the Niners got Mike Iupati and went on to build the best offensive line in football.

Jernigan kind of reminds me of Brown. They both flirt with brilliance. The athletic potential is there. But the little things that make a complete player are lacking.

Brown’s athletic qualities didn’t stand out as much in the NFL. His technique was poor, he took such wide angles in college that he rarely had to engage a tackle or beat him with hand placement. Where was the relentless motor? He had just two years in Carolina before bouncing around the league. He recently had a camp with Philadelphia, but was released on cut-day.

I’m not saying Jernigan will have a similar career, but every time I see him I notice similar traits. Quality athletic potential, but a lack of technique, motor and consistency.

His play is largely unimpressive. He gets pushed around, he doesn’t show a nasty streak. He’s not consistently causing problems for an offensive line. One thing the Seahawks will look for in a tackle is the ability to push the blocker into the pocket, even if they don’t shoot a hole themselves. Jernigan doesn’t do that. He’s really powderpuff at times.

I almost switched off the video above after a few minutes. It was the same old Timmy Jernigan display.

Then at 4:26 he makes a play. He gets away from the center and stops the running back down for a loss.

I keep watching.

At 5:10 he gets off a block and sees a route to the quarterback. He turns on the jets big time and flies into the QB. It’s the kind of pursuit you don’t often see from a guy that size. Big sack. Impressive play.

And you want to start believing again.

Jernigan has the athletic potential to be very effective. If he can find an edge — a nasty streak — and just be a complete pain in the ass when he’s not flashing genuine athletic quality, then he has a shot.

However, at the moment he coasts along games waiting for his chance. And that’s not good enough. Until this improves, I just can’t get excited about seeing him in Seattle. But the potential is there. Which is why he’s a difficult guy to project.

29 Responses to “Timmy Jernigan is a hard one to work out”

  1. Rob Staton says:

    Immediately after writing this piece, I found a defensive tackle I really like. Go figure..

    • MJ says:

      Who is the DT? And what are your thoughts on Ra’shede Hageman? Love his athleticism and dimensions. Huge upside.

      • Rob Staton says:

        I see the upside but the tape I saw last year was a bit hit and miss.

      • Attyla the Hawk says:

        Hageman looks great on the hoof. He looks like a man amongst boys.

        But when I watch him on tape, it’s quickly apparent that he is lacking. He has really good quickness and get off, but almost always concedes that advantage on contact. Last year’s tape, it looked like he really struggled with leverage. He looks like he’s improved that this year, but the results are pretty much the same.

        I have to say, I’m not a huge Hageman fan. He just doesn’t play like you’d expect … particularly failing on contact. And it’s not like he’s getting double teamed or combo blocked regularly. He doesn’t win one on one matchups with any regularity either. You won’t see him hurrying the plays with regularity either.

        Statistically, he’s a beast. You look at him line up and he looks great. But he doesn’t put linemen under stress during the play. You’d like to see him at least beginning to separate from linemen as the play develops. But really, it looks like if the rush is left to him, that QB is going to have a solid 5+ seconds to survey the field on most plays — without having to commit 2 blockers at that.

        Still he bears watching. But I felt he needed to improve significantly from last year. I’m not seeing that yet. He’s a potential prospect at this point and IMO not worthy of a round one pick. That’s not to say he won’t go in round 1. And it’s not a condemnation that he couldn’t develop once in the pros. But his work as it stands now is still incomplete and not first round quality.

  2. Hay stacker509 says:

    Rob if you can get access to some WSU tape I’d like your opinion on
    Ioane Gauta. He’s a smaller NT at 6’3 285 lbs. I know my cougs suck but he really has been a star for our Dline for the last 3 years.

  3. Ben Harbaugh says:

    Ra’shede Hageman? I’ll save my judgement but he’s my guess for this mystery DT.

  4. John says:

    Hey Rob, I enjoy your insights. I have to ask why you’re not a fan of Will Sutton. I like the guy, but I appreciate contrary opinions to help keep me grounded. I did just realize he’s listed at under 6′, that could be a downer I guess.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Size is one of the issues. I just think he’s a bit of a feast or famine player. Flashes of real pass rushing quality, usually in bunches, that impact games at ASU. Then a lot of tape where he’s getting pushed around and looking ineffective against the run. I think he’s best used as a specialist. I wouldn’t want him running early downs too often.

  5. Colin says:

    Odd tape to say the least.

  6. peter says:

    Deandre Coleman? Cauran Reid?

    Part of me is not excited, because it’s about now that you highlight a player then they start skyrocketing into the top ten draft picks :)

    Rob, a WR question, assuming Sidney Rice is not with the Seahawks next year, could you explain to me briefly why Jordan Matthews is a “good prospect, but not for the hawks,” that’s the vibe I was getting on this site a few days back and after watching a ton of tape I think the 2013 version of Matthews would fit in great here…..as would watkins and coleman

    • Attyla the Hawk says:

      I would think it’s because he doesn’t really demonstrate a good possession skill set. He doesn’t win the 50-50 ball, and I think that’s a real requirement for seahawks receivers. I’ve said this last year, and I think this year has even confirmed that suspicion. The WRs that Pete keeps on the rosters are real ball fighters. Baldwin, Williams, Kearse …. they all have outstanding ball skills. Tate and Rice are the same exact way. The guys that don’t make this roster are guys that don’t fight for the ball as well.

      Matthews doesn’t show that ability consistently to adjust and get the ball whether he’s covered or not. And I think that’ll doom his seahawk’s grade. Has good size. But size, if it doesn’t translate to winning the 50-50 ball, is kind of worthless.

      It’ll bear watching for 2013. If he improves that ability I’d say he’d make the grade. He needs to be good at that to make the board.

      • peter says:

        Attyla or Rob,

        Thoughts on Kasen Williams? mind you I am not a husky homer in the slightest, but he has the “Chris harper size,” but can actually run routes.

        Saw some sloppy body catches but other times appears to fight to high point the ball in traffic, plus I don’t know his background but he has a bit of Lynch power to his game after the catch.

        • Attyla the Hawk says:

          I see it much the same way. Although I wouldn’t compare him that closely to Harper. Williams shows a good deal more slipperiness. His route running is much better than Harper’s was. He also looks a great deal quicker.

          He has a nice aptitude for getting yardage after the catch with a combination of good power and wise angles. On well thrown balls, he shows a good ability to take contact and continue onwards. Even breaking free completely.

          I see him as a better prospect than Harper. Route running, ability to make YAC and speed. His straight line may not be much better than Harper’s was. But on the field and on tape he looks smoother and more explosive.

          You hit the nail on the head though. He’s not consistent in his ball skills. That’s not atypical of a prospect of his size and youth. It’s also very difficult to divorce the quality of QB play in this regard. He’s very much in the Coleman, Evans and Moncrief camps as they all suffer from inaccurate QBs as well. Price, at least last season, looked like a wreck. His timing was tardy almost all year. And you can definitely see how that affects Williams as he often times is caught looking for contact instead of cleanly securing the pass first. It’s like his internal clock for how long he should be open is expiring before the pass gets to him — and he’s right in so many instances.

          Kasen is quite often having to fight for balls. At least he’ll have plenty of opportunities to improve. He seems to be able to create separation even if the passes aren’t arriving when that happens.

          This looks like a really deep class of WRs this year. I’m not sure he’ll be wise to declare. He’s probably a fringe day 2 but more likely a day 3 selection at this point. However that can change rapidly with simple maturation on his part or competent QB play on Price’s.

    • Rob Staton says:

      All will be revealed later today :) It’s neither Coleman or Reid.

      The thing with Matthews is he’s an all-rounder. Decent but not elite speed. Consistent, decent route runner. A reliable target. Not a big guy. The kind that every quarterback needs. For me, Seattle already has players like that in Doug Baldwin and Percy Harvin is a more explosive version. Tate and Kearse are kind of in that category too. The Seahawks, IMO, need something a bit different — a big target. A guy who can act as a possession receiver and red zone threat. In the Pro Bowl this year, it was tough to watch Russell throwing to Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald and having so much success. The Seahawks really don’t have a big target who wins jump balls and creates problems in the red zone. Stephen Williams is yet to prove he’s that guy long term.

      For me Matthews is ideal for a guy like Andrew Luck. He’s going to lose Reggie Wayne eventually. I like T.Y Hilton but their #2 guy is Darius Heyward-Bey. Luck needs a long term reliable go-to guy and Matthews ticks all the boxes.

      • peter says:

        Fair points to both of you. Hadn’t factored the average-ishness of his skills.

        • Miles says:

          I think Pete Carroll wants to have a guy who fits the mold of Brandon Marshall (remember PC/JS were after him a couple years ago). I don’t know if Brandon Coleman fits that mold exactly, or if he has the potential to be nearly as talented as Brandon Marshall, but at times it seems like it. So I’d certainly be excited if the Hawks got Coleman and he was able to develop into that guy that no matter how good a defense is, Coleman is going to go get that ball and shut the defense down.

  7. Attyla the Hawk says:

    I’m guessing DaQuan Jones.

  8. Dan says:

    Ahh come on Rob. You can’t leave us with a hanger like that! Hopefully this secret DT falls in the draft.

  9. Miles says:

    Here’s some breaking news. ‘Hawks sign TE Kellen Davis.

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/09/11/seahawks-sign-kellen-davis/

    Help me out here guys. What kind of TE is this? Athletically he’s a freak of nature, no surprise there. But the book on him is that he drops a lot of balls. He also could be the reincarnation of Evan Moore.

    The other part of the book on him says that he is a great blocker. He certainly has the size, too. My guess is that he’ll come in for mop-up work on running downs, but not much else. Pete Carroll probably just wants to narrow the focus of Luke Willson to route running and pass catching for now.

    Thoughts on this.

    • Miles says:

      I’m guessing Mike Person gets the axe due to this move, also.

      • Attyla the Hawk says:

        Hearing it’s Allen Bradford

        • CHawk Talker Eric says:

          I can’t believe they’d keep Person over Bradford, but it looks like they did.

          • Miles says:

            That. Is. Bonkers.

            Allen Bradford stuck out more than any on-the-bubble player during preseason. I don’t know why they would make such a move; possibly there is something we don’t know about him health-wise.

            He’s one of those players you doubt can clear waivers. But that’s what we said about Michael Brooks. Hopefully they can get him on the practice squad again.

            • CHawk Talker Eric says:

              Speaking of Brooks, looks like they released him (and Jared Smith) and resigned Powell and Seymour to the PS.

  10. Kenny Sloth says:

    Is it Aaron Donald from Pitt?

    Dammit, Rob. I’m sick of DTs hahaha