Week six review – Jenkins struggles vs LSU

Janoris Jenkins (#1) can't stop a fake field goal

One of the prospects who has impressed me the most this year is Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins. I’ve had him in the top ten of my mock drafts, just behind Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU) and Prince Amukamara (CB, Nebraska). It might be time to temper those expectations for him, at least for the time being. Jenkins shut down Julio Jones (WR, Alabama) last week but he struggled against LSU’s Terrance Toliver in the open-field. It’s not a stock killer because Toliver is capable of much more than he’s shown so far. His six catch, 111 yard and 2 TD performance against the Gators was long overdue – he only had 148 yards and zero touchdowns in LSU’s previous five games. 

There were two almost identical plays that stood out. Overall Jenkins was decent in coverage, showed good reaction skills as the play developed and was willing to turn and get involved when the ball wasn’t thrown his way. Indeed, he wasn’t targeted that often by LSU’s duel threat at QB and it’s a sign of the growing respect Jenkins has earned.  He got called on a corner blitz and showed great closing speed to pressure a bad throw and deliver a good, solid QB hit. Jenkins also showed some ability as a kick returner, but a good run was called back for an illegal block and an unnecessary spiking of the ball on the sidelines. 

The first big play against Jenkins came with 1:31 left in the first half. Toliver ran a slant and did well to pull in a difficult grab off balance. As two defenders closed, Toliver pulled off a superb spin move to avoid both and get into the open field. Jenkins initially does really well to anticipate the move and close quickly on Toliver to make the tackle. However, he doesn’t do a good enough job at all of wrapping up and Toliver simply drags him 10-12 yards into the end zone. He needs to make that tackle and whilst Toliver is 6-5 and 203lbs, it’s not like he was trying to bring down Mark Ingram. 

An almost identical incident occurred with 23 seconds left and the game on the line. This time Jenkins is covering Toliver and takes a bad angle as a simple short slant is caught with far too much ease. Jenkins reacts and again initiates the tackle, but cannot bring the receiver down. Toliver makes another 12 yards, dragging Jenkins along as he desperately tries to complete the play. It set up LSU for a game-winning touchdown pass and the victory, when a good solid open-field tackle may have restricted them to a field goal and over time. 

Jenkins’ coverage skills and big play ability will mean more to scouts and GM’s than his open-field tackling, but it’s something he needs to work on. He has good coverage skills, good reactions. He can be a kick return threat at the next level. However, he really needs to work on wrapping up in future and it certainly helped LSU put 14 points on the board. 

Patrick Peterson was the other big cornerback feature in the game – but it was almost impossible to judge him on this performance. He was off the field injured and in some pain for large portions of the game. When he was in action, Florida never tested him. He made a couple of good plays in run support – as you’d expect for a corner his size. He did have a badly botched punt for a turnover though – uncharacteristic because his special teams play has been excellent so far. 

**QB Watch** 

Christian Ponder (QB, Florida State) proved he can win big games on the road with a comprehensive 45-17 win over Miami. The performance summed up Ponder for me – he managed things well without being physically dominant. He completed just 12/21 passing for 173 yards, two scores and an interception. Ponder gets a mid-round grade at this point and certainly doesn’t deserve to be talked amongst the early first round prospects. 

Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas) was also victorious in his first game since defeat to Alabama. He put up the big numbers and continues his major improvement in completion percentage this year – getting 310 yards from 27/38 with three TD’s and a pick. However, a good 24-17 win over Texas A&M was spoilt somewhat by Mallett’s petulance – striking a defender, arguing with anyone who’d listen and ignoring the coaches. It’s that kind of attitude that will hold back Mallett’s stock. 

Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford) matched up Jake Locker by helping his team defeat USC with a late field goal. Luck completed a lot of high percentage throws for 20/24 and 285 yards (3 TD’s). If he keeps winning, the hype will continue and it’ll keep his stock high. I still don’t think Luck is either physically outstanding or accurate enough to warrant the #1 overall pick, but whilst ever he’s being described ‘the best QB in college football’… he’ll be at the forefront of most people’s minds – including GM’s. 

Jake Locker (QB, Washington) and the Huskies lost at home to Arizona State. Locker failed to convert a couple of fourth down plays – something that has been a problem this year for Washington. The numbers weren’t really good or bad – 23/38 for 209 yards and a touchdown. Locker had a late pick in the end-zone on a hit and hope. It’s important to remember that Locker was reportedly very ill ahead of this game. However, a lot of people voice concerns about Locker’s ability to get it done against lesser teams. This is one that got away. 

**Other notes** 

A.J. Green (WR, Georgia) had 96 yards and a touchdown from six grabs as Georgia defeated Tennessee. In two games since his suspension, Green has 215 yards and 3 TD’s playing on a bad offense. He will be a top ten pick next year and could go as early as first overall depending on which team owns the pick. They won’t – but if St. Louis had that #1 choice again this year – it’d be a no brainer to pair Green with Sam Bradford. 

Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue) got his sixth sack in five games in a 20-17 win over Northwestern. I’ve had him in the top-20 of my mock because he’s rising quickly. Teams will be interested in his effort and production. I understand why others don’t want to move him even into round one but good publicity, improved technique  and big production will turn what would’ve been a third round pick last year into a potential top choice in 2011. 

Julio Jones (WR, Alabama) and Marcell Dareus (DT, Alabama) both stepped up even in a losing effort. Jones responded after a quiet game against Florida with 118 yards, eight catches and a touchdown. Dareus provided constant inside pressure and got his first sack of the year against South Carolina. Jones’ stock is hard to second guess right now – I could see top-20, I could see second round. Dareus should be a top-20 pick. Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama) had a frustrating afternoon as ‘Bama went away from the pass, he got just 11 carries and 41 yards.


  1. diehard82

    Rob, I’ve been pretty critical of Locker this year, however, watching every play of the AZ St. game I can’t help but feel for the guy. His stats are worse than his performance thanks to dropped passes, poor routes, negligable separation and abysmal pass protection. The Husky O-line is aweful, terrible, horrendous (shall I continue?). Locker threw many passes earlier than desired or into coverage with defenders draped all over him. Had he not taken those shots, he would have taken a dozen sacks. This is a team sport. He can only do so much. I think it is unreasonable to critisize him for the mounting losses (Wes Bunting calls him a “loser”). He did throw at receivers who were covered well, but what’s he supposed to do, keep eating the ball? At some point he has to throw it and hope for the best. I think he should be a mid to late 1st round pick based on what I see, but will probably go in the 7-14 range. Still, I think a lot of the critics are over the top.

    • Rob

      I agree diehard82. I’ve seen comments suggesting that Locker is too much of a ‘loser’ in college. It makes absolutely zero difference to me. I don’t want a QB who’s best quality is ‘wins’ in college. I want a QB you can mould into a winner in the NFL. Colt McCoy won a ton of games with Texas – and will never make it in the NFL. Greg McIlroy will be the same at Alabama. Winning matters the day he signs a professional contract. I’d rather look at the performance behind the defeat. When I watched Washington vs Nebraska, there was an awful lot that you could point at Locker and say – he should do better there. I watched him against Stanford last year and felt much more comfortable with his display in a losing performance.

      Locker polarises opinion a lot. Some people very high on him, others very low. I suspect NFL teams will feel like that to. The Seahawks need to make solving the QB conundrum their absolute priority next off season.

  2. Matt

    Just to piggy back on diehard82, I truly feel awful for Locker. His team is killing him. It’s funny to think that he will actually have more time and a better O-line situation in the NFL no matter what team he goes to because UW’s team is just abysmal.

    The worst part to me, is that his #1 WR Jermaine Kearse, who many played up as an NFL talent in the off-season, continually drops around 3-4 throws a game. And these aren’t judgment call throws. These are hit you in the numbers/face and can’t pull it in. And sadly, this seems to happen in critical situations where someone can say, “hey look, Locker can’t handle pressure and be clutch on 3rd down.”

    Personally, I’m hoping for Locker to keep slipping. Maybe then, if we pick high enough, we can get a top notch WR and trade back up into the late 1st to get Locker or visa versa. I certainly wouldn’t mind trading next year’s first to move back into the first round, if it means getting a #1 WR and our QB of the future. Would you be opposed to making this type of move Rob? Realistically could you trade our 2nd rounder this year, and next year’s first to get in the late teens/early 20s?

    I’m just thinking of how beneficial it would be to come out of this draft with a QB and a WR (Jones, Baldwin, Floyd). Yes, it would suck to lose next year’s first, but if it means securing 2 of the bigger holes on your team, I fail to see how that’s a bad thing.

    I know many people think pass rush is a serious issue, and it’s true you can never have enough pass rushers. That said, I think PC’s scheme allows us to find pass rushers without paying a premium price. Everyone would love to have Julius Peppers, but he’s not required for PC’s system to succeed. You never saw that type of guy at SC (which says a lot considering their talent level year in, year out).

    • Rob

      I think a deal involving a R2 pick and a 2012 first could get you back into the 20’s. I’m not convinced the wide outs in this class are worth the deal, though. Jones has everything you look for physically, but he’s wildly inconsistent and drops too many balls. Baldwin has good size, but is he enough of a field stretcher? His 40YD time at the combine will be big – he’s not being helped this year by Pitt’s woeful situation at QB. Floyd was hammered by the new coaches at ND during the summer. He still body catches too much, is a bit sloppy with his routes and isn’t dominating. He has good size/speed though. There’s lots of potential there, but I’d put both Crabtree and Bryant above them at this stage. I may be more tempted to explore what veterans might be available for just a 2nd rounder. Vincent Jackson might be a cheaper, more proven option. Randy Moss might be available – his contract is up at the end of the season, he can’t be franchised and Minnesota have a huge salary bill. They might be forced to chip away at it if a cap returns. The NJY found very good value for Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. I feel like there are deals to be done for wide outs.

      If there was a chance to trade up for A.J. Green on the other hand, that would be a no brainer.

    • diehard82

      Matt, I suspect with Lockers obvious physical tools that he’ll go high first round under any circumstance. Also, we spent the equivalent of a 3rd and 4th round pick for Whitehurst, so drafting another QB early in 2011 would have to indicate the Schneider/Carrol brain trust failed. Until they actually start him and give him a chance, I don’t think they’ll come to that conclusion. I really think the plan was to stay with Hasselbeck as long as he stays healthy and productive, and keep Whitehurst in reserve. He’s still healthy after 4 games, although production hasn’t been great. It will be interesting to see how that plays out the rest of this season.

      Barring injury or benching of Hasselbeck, I don’t see them spending the first two picks on QB with so many other needs. WR is at the top of my list also. I’m not sold on Julio Jones, but AJ Green, Jonathon Baldwin and Malcolm Floyd in that order. I do think we need to upgrade the D-line, and wouldn’t pass on a talented DE or DT. Remember, the draft isn’t just to fill holes for next year. Mebane and Bryant may not be here beyond their rookie contract and others are working under 1 yr deals.

      I’m hoping we can land Stanley Havili, FB from USC in the 4th rround. I saw Mack Strong as a battering ram, Leonard Weaver as less blocker but better receiver, and Havili as less blocker than Weaver, but better receiver and run after the catch. Capable blocker, but real weapon in the passing game.

      • Rob

        I’d tend to disagree there. I think the Seahawks appreciated they had to bring in at least one QB to support Matt Hasselbeck and clearly, they were happy to deal Wallace. Schneider knew a lot about Whitehurst and they paid a price to chance their arm there. If it works out, it was a steal. If it doesn’t, you could argue it was worth a shot to try and find a long term solution at the position. Certainly, Whitehurst could be an intermediate starter whilst a rookie was redshirted, and the price would be justified. There’s always a chance Seattle can win back some of what they paid in the future.

        The Seahawks will only ever be succesful long term when they have the QB position sorted. Whilst they do have another needs, I think any team that has a question mark at QB has to answer that before the look at other areas. If the Seahawks see a QB in this class that they feel can be ‘the guy’, they have to bring him in and then let Whitehurst/rookie play out the situation. I think the #1 priority next season will be to sort out the situation at QB.

      • Matt

        Let’s also remember, that Mebane and Bryant were not first round picks, but both over time, grew into their roles. I think it’s easy to see that PC has a specific type of D-lineman and DE he wants, and I don’t necessarily think they have to pay a premium price to get them. Unless, they are picking in the teens and a guy like Dareus falls to them who is very versatile while providing a pass rush. I really think the defense has very nice pieces in place to become very good. The problem is, the offense allows no chance for the defense to be successful. It’s not just the pressure put on the defense for little to no error, but also TOP is flat out killing them too.

        I can honestly say that I will be shocked if we do not reward Mebane and Bryant this off-season and secure them long term. Those 2 could be a big reason why we have dumped so much salary. They look like integral parts of PC’s defense and I think his priority will be to keep those 2 in town for as long as possible.

        As of right now, offense and playmakers is paramount and I think this season is only bolstering that idea. QB and an outside threat WR will help the defense more than a top 10 DE will (as odd as that sounds). Look for this upcoming draft to be heavily focused on offense unless an obvious talent on defense is staring them in the face and is too stupid to pass up. I’m thinking of someone like a Prince Amukamara, Patrick Peterson, or Marcell Dareus slipping to a spot no one expected. Otherwise, look for a QB to be top priority as well as a well rounded HWS WR.

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