We are halfway through our in-depth look at the 2013 Miami Dolphins draft class. The next man up is the first of Miami's two fourth round selections, former Florida Gators linebacker Jelani Jenkins. Jenkins possesses some qualities that are quite rare for a man at his position, but he does have quite a few concerns too. Let's take a look at his breakdown.
What he does well: Jenkins possesses rare speed for a linebacker. When healthy at the University of Florida, Jenkins was asked on many occasions to split out and cover a tight end or wide receiver. This is something he excelled at, as he has the speed and agility to maintain coverage on even the smaller, speedy slot receivers. He is also very fluid in his movements for a linebacker, possessing a rare (for his position) ability to flip his hips smoothly and run with whomever he is asked to cover. This ability will make him valuable at the next level, as it is rare these days to find a linebacker with the ability to stick with his man consistently in coverage. When healthy, Jenkins is also very adequate in his blitzing and tackling abilities. He tallied 151 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss (a tackle on a ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage), and 4 sacks in his two fully healthy seasons as a Gator.
What he needs to improve: For all his athleticism, Jenkins does not possess ideal size for a linebacker. At only 6' and 32" arm length, Jenkins has a tendency to get held up on blocks. He doesn't always use his hands well to fight of interior linemen and once they get inside position, Jenkins struggles to get off the block and get to the ball carrier. There are also significant medical concerns with Jenkins, as he was forced to redshirt his freshman season after playing in just two games. He also missed significant time this past season with injuries. In total, Jenkins has had a lingering hamstring issue as well as a surgery on his left foot and one on his left hand.
Where he fits: If Jenkins is healthy, there is no doubt in my mind that he is a very talented linebacker. Had he not had the medical issues at Florida, I would have projected him as a second round prospect. Assuming that Jenkins is healthy and his medical issues are in the past, his versatility as an athlete should guarantee that he makes the roster. I'm not sure that he'll amount to anything more than a special teams player in his rookie season, but if he comes into camp healthy and impresses the coaching staff, I wouldn't be surprised to see him push Koa Misi for the starting strongside linebacker position, though his natural position is over on the weakside.
Highlight video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SXCVI5IJJE
Welcome! My name is Chris Spooner. I am an overly-passionate Dolphins fan who has many opinions about his team, and the sports landscape as a whole. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy voicing them.