The New Orleans Saints were surprised to find mammoth defensive tackle John Jenkins in the third round of Aprils’ 2013 NFL Draft. A tremendous talent with a 6’3’’, 359-pound frame, the Saints couldn’t let him fall any further, trading up to snag him at No. 82 overall.
While some teams were concerned heading into the draft that Jenkins’ weight and motor would be an issue, the Georgia product with nimble feet and surprising explosiveness appears to be a perfect fit for the Saints’ new 3-4 defense.
Jenkins has a lot to learn as he attempts to make the transition from college ball to the pros, but has the physical tools to make an early impact for the Saints. While the rest of the Saints’ top defensive lineman are focusing on learning all of the front three positions, Jenkins is focusing solely on nailing down nose tackle. His specialization could be what convinces the coaches to give him first go for the starting gig.
Before he lands at the top of the depth chart, Jenkins must improve his conditioning and consistency as a disruptive force on the interior of the Saints’ front. Throughout his college career, Jenkins struggled with going full speed for 60 minutes, often struggling to be a consistent factor as the game wore on.
Once training cap kicks off, Jenkins will face off against the likes of Akiem Hicks, Brodrick Bunkley, and Tyrunn Walker for the starting spot at nose tackle. Seeing as Hicks will likely slide over and man the defensive end position, it’ll come down to Jenkins and Bunkley, an underwhelming veteran, to duke it out for the top job.
Jenkins’ slide down the draft was a blessing in disguise for the Saints, who stole a top talent with a third-round pick. If he can put his conditioning/motor issues behind him and play like the mountain of a man he is, Jenkins should enjoy plenty of success in New Orleans for years to come.