[Note: Want to see a list of every player featured in our "Draft Target" segment? Click here to visit the Offseason Tracker where there will be a list of all these players. Check back often as there are plenty more to come!]
Last season the Vikings put Letory Guion in front of a relatively untested Jasper Brinkley, who played in front of young group of safeties. As a result, the defense experienced their fair share of struggles in the middle of the defense. The safety position was upgraded greatly when the Vikings selected Harrison Smith in the first round last year and it is widely believed the Vikings will find their starting middle linebacker in the Draft this year.
Still, with Kevin Williams getting older and carrying a large cap hit, the Vikings should be considered to be in the market for some help at the defensive tackle position, as well. A large run stuffer that can conjure up memories of Pat Williams would be a nice addition and Georgia’s John Jenkins could be a nice fit.
At 6′ 4″ and 346 pounds, Jenkins is a huge and athletically gifted run stopping nose tackle that commanded double teams at Georgia. His broad frame and good arm length provides opposing runners with a large obstacle to try and surpass, and he is not going to be moved off of the line of scrimmage, so they have to go around. He also has the size and brute strength to disrupt the pocket on occasion, but is unlikely to be a dependable pass rusher at the next level despite an intimidating bull rush.
Similar to Pat Williams, Jenkins is occasionally going to take offensive linemen by surprise with his agility and quickness. Not only is he quick at the point of attack, but he can move around pretty well between the tackles for a guy of his size.
After transferring out of Gulf Coast Community College, the senior played two years in Georgia. In 2011, he had 28 tackles, seven for a loss, and 10 quarterback pressures. In 2012, he notched 50 tackles, 2 for a loss, and a sack. He has played against elite talent with varying results. He had a nice performance matching up against this year’s top guard Chance Warmack, but struggled greatly against D.J. Fluker in the SEC Championship Game.
I know that teams running a 3-4 defense will value a guy like Jenkins more than 4-3 teams (or the hack bloggers that cover them), but I honestly view Jenkins as more of a second round talent instead of the first rounder many believe him to be. Part of that, at least for 4-3 teams like the Vikings, is because he has to be an assumed two-down player.
His positional value may indeed cause him to be drafted in the first round, but if teams aren’t overly impressed with his game tape then he could fall further than expected. Combine stretches of being invisible on tape with questions about his work ethic and conditioning, not to mention a two game suspension for academic reasons, and he might actually slip to the middle of the second round or later. At that point, and not really any earlier, I would consider Jenkins to be a great target for the Vikings to pursue.
UPDATE: As soon as I posted this I came across this recent noteworthy article about Jenkins. He is apparently working hard and has dropped his weight all the way down to 332 pounds.