April 26, 2013

Johnathan Jenkins, Nose Tackle, Georgia

20th selection in the third round, 82nd overall
6'4", 346 pounds, 5.20e 40

The Saints entered the draft with critical needs at two positions, left tackle and massive 3-4 nose tackle. In the span of a few minutes at the bottom of the third round, the Saints addressed both.

Without a massive run-stuffer on the roster and facing a transition to the 3-4, the Saints early on appeared in need of a 3-4 nose tackle, one of the most physically demanding positions in the game.  Georgia NT Jonathan Jenkins is that man, and we predicted he would be the Saints' first round pick in our second mock draft in January.

The Saints simply do not have Jenkins' size on the roster, and that is very important for the Saints to make their transition to the 3-4.  Jenkins' success and development will never be judged by sacks or tackles, but by the production of those around (defensive ends) and behind (linebackers).

Despite his role as a block-absorber, he was credited with 50 tackles as a senior at Georgia, two tackles for loss and a sack.  Used to fighting double teams every down, he'll do the same in the NFL while rotating with Saints DT Brodrick Bunkley, who will apparently play the same position at "only" 306 pounds.

Jenkins is the massive nose tackle prospect that a 3-4 scheme has classically required, though Rob Ryan played with smaller nose tackles like Bunkley in Dallas, but not in Cleveland or Oakland. Rated the third best nose tackle prospect in the draft, behind Utah DT Star Lotulelei and Ohio State DT Jonathan Hankins, Jenkins played at 363 pounds or above. His size is uncoachable and untrainable, with a barrel chest and huge wingspan.

Jenkins can be considered an immediate candidate to start in certain formations and certainly in short-yardage situations, a brilliant investment considering the Saints traded back into the third round to get him. The Saints acquired the pick to draft Jenkins by swinging two fast trades with the Jets and Dolphins, which resulted in the movement of Chris Ivory to New York.

Mickey Loomis has seen the Saints burned when trading up for a huge Georgia defensive tackle named Johnathan before, burning two first round picks trading up for a loafer named Johnathan Sullivan in 2003.  The Saints gave up on Sullivan three wasted years later in 2006.   But, a dominating performance by big Johnathan Jenkins in the Senior Bowl was encouraging, as Jenkins showed off his enormous wingspan and quick feet.

Unlike Sullivan, Jenkins showed more character by staying in school for his senior season.  Jenkins also fought his way through junior college to Georgia, starting the past season and a half at the 3-4 nose tackle position.  The Saints, who certainly scouted the Bulldog defense extensively, would always see Jenkins opening up the rush lanes for Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree.  Jenkins, though reportedly ballooning as high as 370, is not considered to be as immature as other recent massive defensive tackles.

Jenkins was ruled academically ineligible for his final game as a Bulldog, the Capital One Bowl, and skipped all exercised but the bench press at the Combine because of a lumber spine muscle injury and a left thigh injury that are not considered serious.  Jenkins lifted 225 pounds 30 times at the combine. He also has a history of hamstring injuries.

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