Georgia has the unenviable task of replacing a number of key players on Todd Grantham’s defense, but none larger than outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who declared for the NFL draft earlier this year and figures to be among the first names taken in April’s draft.
The player that will be given the first opportunity to fill the large shoes left by Jones is rising sophomore Jordan Jenkins, who started six games and finished behind only Jones with five sacks and 23 quarterback hurries. Those numbers are impressive for a freshman. He is the most talented and experienced returning player on the Bulldogs’ front seven and will be counted on taking a big step in year two in Athens.
Jenkins isn’t the same type of player as Jones, so expecting him to lead the nation in sacks as Jones did a year ago when he took down the quarterback 14.5 times is unfair, but there are some similarities between the two and it starts with their quick first step and love for contact. I would set the floor at eight sacks for Jenkins as a full-time starter, but would not be surprised to see him approach double-digit sacks if he gets off to a quick start and dominates against inferior opponents.
One big difference between the two is that Jones had the benefit of playing with a talented and veteran defensive line in front of him and a senior-laden secondary that made his life easier. Jenkins won’t have that same luxury of playing with a number of players that will be in the NFL the next year, but it does give him the opportunity to step as a leader in the locker room and on the field.
For Jenkins, spring practice will be the first step toward his rapid ascension toward being one of the best Georgia defenders over the next two to three years and his last step as a Bulldog could be one that Jones took on his way to the NFL.