Heading into the 2011 season, the Philadelphia Eagles thought they were going to unveil the top trio of cornerbacks in the National Football League.
They acquired Nnamdi Asomugha, arguably the game’s best feared cornerback, in free agency, and they traded for former Pro Bowl corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from the Arizona Cardinals. And they still had Asante Samuel, the league’s best cornerback in 2010, and a four-time Pro Bowl selection.
Let’s just say things didn’t exactly work out as planned for the Eagles in 2011.
Only Samuel had a great season. Asomugha struggled all year, in part because he wasn’t used properly by first-year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, but also because he just didn’t play well, like this game against the New York Giants.
Rodgers-Cromartie played so poorly that he was later benched for Joselio Hanson in the nickel cornerback spot. It didn’t help that DRC suffered an ankle injury and had to miss a couple of games late in the season.
The Eagles’ pass defense was anything but scary, and heading into 2012, the team is preparing to move on without Asante Samuel, who is currently being shopped around now.
Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie will start. Most expect Asomugha to rebound and have a great season, but no one can really know what to expect at all with Rodgers-Cromartie. He could return to his Pro Bowl self or he could continue playing like one of the least talented cornerbacks in the league.
The Eagles could benefit from selecting a cornerback in the 2012 NFL draft, and one prospect who comes to mind is North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
Jenkins stands 5’10 and weighs 193 pounds and is one of the best cover cornerbacks, if not the best cover cornerback, available in the draft. He was a Second Team All-American selection by the Associated Press and he also averaged 21.8 yards per punt return, which included three touchdowns. He ran a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash. The Eagles could use Jenkins as their nickel back and their punt returner in 2012.
However, Jenkins has had some relatively big issues with the law. He was arrested for being in a fight and fleeing police back in June of 2009. He also was dismissed from Florida after two marijuana-related charges in a three-month span in early 2011. That’s when he chose to transfer to North Alabama.
The Eagles would have to decide if it is worth it to acquire a player with such incredible talent but such obvious issues. Jenkins will likely get into trouble more than once over the next few seasons, probably with drugs. He’ll probably have attitude issues, and that’s probably not something that a team like the Eagles, who are close to having Super Bowl talent, will want on their roster in 2012.
Jenkins is the definition of a high-risk, high-reward player. The Eagles will have to figure out if he’s worth a first or second round selection in the draft.