The Dallas Cowboys are looking for a few good cornerbacks. One name that keeps coming up in various and sundry mock drafts is Janoris Jenkins. A player of unquestionable talent, he comes with a couple of big question marks. The first involves the character concerns about the multiple incidents that led to his dismissal from Florida. The second is his size, with his height reported as 5'9" or 5'10", depending on the source.
This has been a hot topic that has already been discussed here, but there are a couple of recent articles out that may shed a little more light on these issues, and possibly change some opinions. The first is an interview with Jenkins from the Senior Bowl. Conducted by Scott Wright, it is posted on his Draft Countdown website (and was pointed out to me by the always omniscient OCC). The second is an excellent post by Birddog26 on the role interviews play in evaluating draft prospects. Both are must reads for anyone who is wondering whether Dallas should have Jenkins on their draft board, and provide some fresh fodder for the discussion.
I'll wait for a moment if you want to read them, and then we can continue after the jump.
I always prefer to use information that comes from multiple sources, even when dealing with opinion. I noticed right off the bat that Wright and BD26 have some very similar attitudes about the whole interview process.
How well Jenkins interviews with scouts and decision-makers in the coming months will play a major role in determining whether or not he slides on Draft Day. Scott Wright of Draft Countdown caught up with Jenkins at the 2012 Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL and had a chance to not only talk with the talented cover guy but also look him directly in the eye to get a feel for the type of person he is.
As a scout the interview process lets me get an inside look into a prospect's character and mental alertness.
In the Wright interview, Janoris seems to say all the correct things. He acknowledges that he has made mistakes and says that he wants to prove that he is not the same person that he was.
Scott Wright: Obviously people are going to ask you about the off the field stuff. How are you planning to explain those incidents to NFL teams?
Janoris Jenkins: Basically just be honest. Admit that what I did was wrong, just let them know how it went and hopefully things will go better.
If he is sincere, then it is plausible that getting kicked out of Florida and playing his final season at Division II North Alabama got his attention. He may have a much better grasp of just what he placed in jeopardy than some others who just passed up a year or two of eligibility and jumped into the NFL to elude the trouble they had gotten into in college. He states that he made the decision to go back to school and try to prove himself rather than go the easier route. That would seem to be a factor in his favor.
Another thing in his favor, although admittedly not exactly based on the most objective criteria possible, is this:
Scott Wright:What was your favorite team and player growing up?
Janoris Jenkins: My favorite team growing up was the Dallas Cowboys.
OK, I just had to throw that in. We have here a very talented young player who lacked wisdom and who may or may not have acquired some of the same. He fits the needs of the Cowboys. But, given that he also mentioned that the NFL receiver he would most like to go up against is Calvin Johnson, his size does need to be taken into consideration. Can you give up a half a foot or more to some of the more physical receivers like Megatron and still be effective? At least one of the other BTB front page writers has mentioned that he does not want a 5'9" cornerback playing for the Cowboys, no matter how good he is. (I will let said writer decide if he wants to enter the debate). That is a criterion that has an objective basis, and I respect all of the other guys who have their names at the bottom of the page.
I also respect BD26. In the comment thread of his article that I linked to, he specifically addresses Jenkins. Asked about how thorough he thought the interview process was on him, BD26 revealed that he had put in over 100 hours interviewing Jenkins and just about everyone else who had any contact with him on behalf of the team he contracts with as a scout (focusing on defensive backs). His advice on what the Cowboys should consider doing about drafting Janoris:
In the late first to early second
I would also advocate the team I work for taking him in the same range
A disclaimer. I have never met Birddog26 in person, but I consider him a friend, based on many, many e-mails back and forth discussing the Cowboys and the NFL. I just wanted to admit that I may be a bit prejudiced in his favor, but I will say that he seems to know what he is talking about. And this is what he does for a living. Also, BD26 is not just talking character. He also evaluates the talent involved, and he did play defensive back in college. If he thinks Jenkins is worth an early draft pick, then I would tend to go with that.
But nobody is perfect. Also, another thing to consider is the position the Cowboys find themselves in. If I credit BD26's evaluation, then taking Jenkins at 14 is a reach, and he seems unlikely to still be available when the team's second round pick comes. The combine results may of course change things. If he moves up, he may get into that 10 to 15 range that would make him a logical pick for the Cowboys. Trading down might also be an alternative, although there are certainly risks involved there.
All in all, this seems like a logical place for a poll to find out what you think.