The Cowboys front office went out and signed free agent Brandon Carr to play opposite of Mike Jenkins at cornerback. Carr brings a great skill set to the secondary and he should thrive in Dallas. Jenkins will be entering his fifth NFL season in 2012, and it will be a big one for him. Will he put together a second consecutive quality season, or will be trend back to the type of player he was in 2010? There will be pressure on him to perform entering his contract season.
This year there will be no excuses for him. He finally has an equally talented cornerback on the other side of him. For the past few years, Terence Newman was beginning to decline and it made life hard for Jenkins. Carr is a clear upgrade at left cornerback and that was the first priority in this year's offseason. If he can live up to his draft status and 2009 performance, Jenkins will become one part of a very talented cornerback duo.
During the 2008 NFL Draft, I wasn't really thrilled with the Felix Jones selection, but I was happy with it. Getting the feisty cornerback from South Florida with the 25th overall pick made me really excited. He was the type of cornerback I thought would do great things for us, but his career has been up and down. Sticking by him and supporting him may finally payoff if he puts it all together on the field.
Take the jump for more Jenkins propaganda...
The Early Years
Jenkins was considered to be one of the nations premier shutdown cornerbacks. He was a blue chip prospect coming out of Bradenton, Florida and was recruited by some of the biggest football programs in college. LSU, Florida State and Florida were attempting to lure him to come play football for them. Instead he decided to stay closer to home. South Florida University is located in Tampa, which is only 46 miles away from his hometown of Bradenton.
He earned playing time early on in his freshman year, then he took over the starting job as a sophomore and never looked back. His 6 career interceptions may seem low, but he isn't the ball-hawk type of cornerback that is going to put up a lot of stats in that department. His game is more of a lockdown type that excels in coverage. He does have good ball skills, but he is more of a shadow corner who takes opposing teams #1 wide receiver out of games.
He built his reputation on his speed and great coverage skills. Believe it or not, he was very physical in college and was a ferocious hitter for a player 197 pounds. A big part of his game in college that is still pertinent today is swagger. Cornerbacks get beat, it's just part of the game. The good one's forget about it and move forward. They carry a chip on their shoulder and have to maintain their confidence.
The 2008 NFL Combine And Draft
The combine is the perfect place for a great athlete like Jenkins to improve his draft stock.
- 4.38 40 yard dash
- 18 reps of 225 pounds
- 34 inch vertical jump
- 4.40 20 yard shuttle
- 7.21 three-cone drill
The 4.38 40 yard dash time shows that he has top notch speed. This is the type of speed that allows you to trail a wide receiver all over the field. For a guy that is only 5-10, a 34 inch vertical jump is very good. His size can be a disadvantage, so it is important that he can jump, go up and fight with the wide receiver for the football. NFL teams were impressed with his athletic ability, there were no issues there. He was one of the best cornerbacks in the 2008 draft class.
The issues off-the-field did concern teams though. Back in 2007, he was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest during a fight outside of a bar. Jenkins was actually tasered by police even though it was reported he was not being physical or aggressive with the police.
There were also concerns about his work ethic and attitude, even though one CBS scouting report said the opposite.
Hard worker in the training room and on the practice field, as he is more of a quiet leader-by-example type, but spends lots of his time mentoring the younger players and is a potential coaching candidate in the future.
Wow, a potential coach in the future. That is an interesting take on Mike Jenkins.
The Cowboys were not concerned with the issues and selected him with their second first-round draft pick they had that year. Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Flowers and Miami safety Kenny Phillips would have also made sense for the Cowboys. Jenkins looked like a great value pick at the time that fit a need. The Cowboys had clear intentions of grooming him into their future #2 cornerback on the other side of Terence Newman.
As a rookie he was behind Newman, Pacman Jones and Anthony Henry on the depth chart. He made three starts as a rookie and had his first career interception against the Giants. There were flashes of the type of play we all hoped to see from him in the future.
In 2009, head coach Wade Phillips decided to have an open competition for the right starting cornerback position. Eventually he beat out fellow 2008 draft pick Orlando Scandrick and never looked back. He had 60 tackles, 5 interceptions and 23 pass breakups. Jenkins was one of the best cornerbacks in football that year and looked like a future star. He also earned Pro Bowl honors after Antoine Winfield went down with an injury.
After a excellent 2009 campaign, he took a gigantic step backwards in 2010. Teams consistently attacked him and he began to lose his confidence. It amazed me how one of the best cornerbacks in the league could go to one of the worst in the league in just one season. There was the "business decision" in the Green Bay game that made it hard to support him. Watching him play in 2010 was just flat out awful.
Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas presented the facts in a great article about the disaster of a season.
There's no sugarcoating just how much Jenkins stunk last season. Here's some evidence, with the ugly numbers provided by Stats, Inc.:
*The Cowboys allowed 935 yards on 87 passes - - an inexcusable 10.7 yards per attempt - - when Jenkins was targeted. Washington's DeAngelo Hall was the only defender to allow more yardage.
*Jenkins led the league with six pass interference penalties, five of which were accepted for 89 yards. He also was flagged twice for defensive holding and once for illegal contact.
*Quarterbacks, who were intercepted only once by Jenkins in 2010, had a 113.0 passer rating when throwing his way. To put that in perspective, the Patriots' Tom Brady led the NFL with a 111.0 passer rating.
Ouch, yes it was that bad for Jenkins in 2010. It's not that we should look at him as a bust because he has shown he has first-round talent. It was the transformation from one of the leagues best into one of the leagues worst. He was a major disappointment in a season full of it.
Entering the 2011 season, Jenkins had a lot of pressure on him. He didn't have to just prove it to the Cowboys and their fans, but he had to prove to himself that he wasn't the type of player he was in 2010. He battled injuries all season long, but showed that he was willing to fight back. The penalties went away and he cleaned up his technique. He kept his swagger and confidence up all season long. Maybe he didn't have another Pro Bowl caliber season, but he did show that he wasn't the type of cornerback he was in 2010. I respect him so much more now because of the way he fought so many different injuries and kept coming back into games.
2012 And The Future
His nagging shoulder injury led to surgery in January. The recovery time is anywhere from 4-6 months and I just hope he is ready to go by training camp. The combination of Jenkins and Carr should form a very good cornerback duo. Both have great cover skills and can lock wide receivers down in man to man press coverage. With Scandrick holding the slot down, it looks like we have our best looking secondary in years.
2012 will be a huge year for Mike Jenkins. He is entering his contract season and this is where players usually step up and play their best football. The Cowboys will be caught in a difficult position though. Do they attempt to extend him during the season and keep his price down? If he has a good season, his stock could rise when he hits the open market next year.
It will be a risky proposition for the front office. Making him a part of the future may be wise if he signs the extension and plays the type of football we saw from him in 2009 and 2010. There is the risk that they extend him and he falls off again like he did in 2010. Hopefully he continues his upward trajectory as a good cornerback and earns the extension. We made him a first-round selection, and I would rather see him be a success as a Dallas Cowboy and continue his career here.
The skill set is there, it's more of a technique and mental thing with him. If he is motivated and keeps his head right, we will see #21 for the majority of his career in Dallas.This will be interesting to see how this situation plays out. It may be too early to have a full understanding of the situation that is brewing, but we should not forget about Mike Jenkins. He plays an important part of the failure or success the Cowboys will have in the near future.