The Baltimore Ravens entered the 2014 NFL Draft with a very stout defensive line, but the team decided to make it a bit more versatile by adding Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan in the second round with the 48th overall selection.
Jernigan, who has excellent size for the position at 6-foot-2, 299 pounds, will likely attempt to find a home at either defensive end or nose tackle in the Ravens’ 3-4 defensive scheme. FSU played multiple fronts, but primarily played a 3-4 defense, so Jernigan has some experience playing both DE and NT in a similar scheme.
That being said, he has a ton of maturing to do before he can contribute. Jernigan, who was once a coveted recruit coming out of high school, really underwhelmed during his tenure with the ‘Noles and never really lived up to the hype he received coming out of high school as the next big thing at DT. Jernigan will need to become much stronger and get himself into much better shape to become a consistent contributor.
Due to his 299-pound frame, it’s also difficult to place exactly where he will fit in for the Ravens along their defensive front. Is he a defensive end? Or is he a nose tackle? He may struggle out of the gate to be a defensive end at this point, but he’s too small to be a dominant nose tackle right now.
My best guess is that the Ravens will try to use his versatility to move him around along the defensive line, similar to how the team uses NT Haloti Ngata, who is listed as a nose tackle but tends to see snaps at both defensive end spots as well. Arguably the best front that the Ravens can feature is DE Chris Canty, Jernigan as the other DE, and Ngata inside as the NT, but the team can obviously shift those players around in any order they wish.
Jernigan may be pushed by DTs Terrence Cody and Brandon Williams, but his upside is much higher than those of Cody and Williams. Look for Jernigan to play an intricate role in the success of the Ravens’ defense this season against a tough AFC North division.