In the build up for the NFL Draft this past April, cornerback Janoris Jenkins was dubbed the biggest risk of any player. For the St. Louis Rams, this meant doing some extra homework on a player with extreme talent but many potential pitfalls. If this season has proven nothing else, it has shown that in the right situation with the proper people around, even the riskiest player can become a sure thing.
The Rams hired Head Coach Jeff Fisher in January and then General Manager Les Snead shortly thereafter. That didn’t leave the team and its scouting department much time prior to the scouting combine to get much information on Jenkins compiled. Fisher has said that “no team did more homework” on Jenkins leading up to the draft however and they learned the truth about all of the things that scared other teams away.
Prior to the draft, Jenkins was already the father to four children to three different women and had been kicked off of the Florida Gators football team due to marijuana use which forced him to humble himself and play for a smaller school in North Alabama. After doing that substantial homework assignment, the Rams were more than comfortable with Jenkins and what he was about.
When recently asked about the top ten draft talent and how the experiment has gone, Fisher said: “Every situation is different, and we were very, very satisfied, or we wouldn’t have selected him. He’s an outstanding man who loves the game and understands the game. He’s improved significantly over the last three or four weeks — I won’t say he’s ‘guessing right,’ but he’s been making good decisions out there, and it’s been paying off for him. He’s got a lot to learn, but he’s definitely willing, and he puts the time in.”
The praise of Jenkins hasn’t come without its share of trials and tribulation however. The corner and fellow rookie wide receiver Chris Givens were suspended for the Rams week 10 contest and forced to run the stadium stairs instead of play that Sunday. Being deactivated for that game seemed to light a fire under Jenkins who has really make some huge plays since.
What tells you the most about a player and just how much talent he has is how his teammates feel about him. According to veteran defensive end Chris Long: “Some guys make mistakes and don’t make any big plays. So, I’ll take the guy that’s scored four touchdowns this year. He’s got a really bright future. He’s done a great job of just being mature and continuing to work at his craft. He’s grown up a lot this year.”
Linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar had some similar praise for Jenkins saying: “He’s a huge playmaker. Any time that ball is up, he has a play to make on the ball. He’s proven that over the course of the season, and I think he’s just going to turn into a great pro if he just keeps working at it and stays humble.”
With a coach that supports him and players around him that believe in his abilities, Jenkins is certainly on the track to NFL stardom. Don’t be surprised if Jenkins is making plenty of trips to Honolulu in mid-winter as his career progresses.
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