Janoris Jenkins is one of the most intriguing prospects entering the 2012 NFL draft for every team, but especially a team like the New England Patriots who are in need of defensive help.
As I wrote yesterday, the Patriots are expected to focus their efforts on defense
this Thursday when the draft begins. The two primary needs for the team are pass rushers and coverage men and therefore Bill Belichick and his team of scouts will be focusing on those areas of this draft class.
Jenkins is potentially the most talented player in coverage that this draft has to offer. Yet while Morris Claiborne is seen as a guaranteed top 10 pick, Jenkins is expected by some to fall as far as the third round.
Because of multiple red flags resulting from off-the-field incidents, Jenkins will be available for the Patriots to draft in the first round and most likely the second round also. Jenkins is not necessarily a bad guy. He was removed from the Florida football team because of multiple arrests due to drug use.
He played his final season in college in division II after no team was willing to take on the troubled secondary star in division I.
Bill Belichick has never been one to pass on talent because of outside circumstances, providing that those circumstances can be managed, and while Jenkins obviously has a drug problem, it's not totally inconceivable that he could flourish under a stronger regime and in a locker-room with veteran leadership.
No matter how talented he is, Belichick will not overdraft Jenkins and as such, he will definitely not take him in the first round. The most likely situation is that the Patriots use their second pick in the second round to bring in the young cornerback minimizing the investment they make in a risky prospect.
If Belichick can change the attitude of Jenkins towards drugs, and keep him focused on football, he would be an outstanding addition to the roster who could potentially be the finishing touch to the team's transition to one of the worst defenses in the league, to one of the most talented groups of youngsters.
If the Patriots take some combination of Chandler Jones, Nick Perry, Andrew Branch or Kendall Reyes to reignite the pass rush in the first round, with another addition to the front seven with their first second round pick or a safety, Jenkins could slot in to be a starting corner instantly. With the return of Ras-I Dowling, the Patriots would have a very deep secondary.
Devin McCourty could be moved to safety, or kept at cornerback, while Kyle Arrington could also be moved inside with Jenkins arrival. Arrington is a good cornerback, but his lack of physical height can often be exposed and makes him better suited to playing inside matching up to slot receivers.
The Patriots could quickly turn their 31st ranked pass defense around with a few additions in the draft. Whether Jenkins is a part of that change is still to be determined as is his future in the NFL. He must be in consideration however for the team.
He is too talented not to be and represents too much value at the end of the second round.Tweeting @Cianaf