The Miami Dolphins used a fourth round draft pick over the weekend to select Florida linebacker Jelani Jenkins. Ranked by Pro Football Weekly as the 11th best outside linebacker in the draft, Jenkins will likely be used on the weak-side with the Dolphins, and as a utility backup for Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler, and Koa Misi.
But, to get better insight into what the Dolphins can expect from Jenkins, I turned to Andy Hitchins, the managing editor of SB Nation's Florida Gators blog, Alligator Army.
Jelani Jenkins came to Florida as one of the most talented players in the class of 2009, deciding to become a Gator with the aid of a decision matrix. But with Florida's 2009 defense loaded with upperclassmen, Jenkins ended up redshirting, then stepping into the spotlight in 2010, when he made 11 starts and was named to the Freshman All-SEC team. He added 12 more starts in 2011, and notched 76 tackles, one more than he did in 2010, as a redshirt sophomore, but his standout pass coverage was his best facet, as he finished with six pass defenses.
One of the knocks on Jenkins entering his senior year, though, was that none of those pass defenses turned into picks; he fixed that with one of the bigger plays of Florida's season, a snared blocked punt that he returned for the game-winning touchdown against Louisiana-Lafayette, and a pick of EJ Manuel against Florida State. But another worry, about his durability, got more potent: Jenkins missed four games with hand and foot injuries, and was much less effective while playing through the injuries, tallying just 29 tackles on the season. If he can stay healthy, I really like his potential as an outside linebacker who can run with tight ends, but I think that if is bigger for Jenkins than for most players.
A huge thank you to Hutchins for sharing his thoughts on Jenkins. You can check out all things Gator on Alligator Army.