The St. Louis Rams head into the 2014 NFL season believing they can compete for a playoff spot despite playing in a brutal NFC West. St. Louis made upgrades through the draft and free agency to fortify every aspect of their roster over the offseason and are loaded with young, dynamic talent.
Their biggest weakness during the 2013 season was their inexperienced secondary, but the unit has a pletheora of talent waiting to breakout, highlighted by third-year cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
Jenkins shined for St. Louis during his 2012 rookie campaign, with four interceptions (three for touchdowns) and 64 tackles after being selected out of North Alabama in the early second round (39th overall).
Jenkins had also stood out as a dynamic player at the University Of Florida during his first three collegiate seasons, but was dismissed from the team, which led to his move to North Alabama. He would have undoubtedly been a first-round pick if it weren’t for his public transgressions.
The 2013 season wasn’t nearly as kind to Jenkins, as the Rams’ secondary struggled mightily and was undoubtedly the Achilles’ heel of the team. He finished the season with zero interceptions, one sack and 54 tackles, seemingly taking a big step backwards in his sophomore campaign.
In fairness, the Rams secondary was full of first- and second-year players that were struggling to gel as a unit last season. St. Louis added defensive coordinator Gregg Williams over the offseason in efforts to fix its issues, as head coach Jeff Fisher understood that the Rams’ front seven would not be able to play to their full potential with a struggling group of defensive backs behind them.
Jenkins has the most pure talent of the unit, although Trumaine Johnson and T.J. McDonald are gifted as well. St. Louis would stand to benefit the most if it were Jenkins who became the standout of the secondary. The Rams’ defensive line is so strong that there will be plenty of passes chucked up in the air into coverage from immense pressure, and Jenkins must take advantage of that trend.
Bursting with potential, he has an opportunity to become a nationally-recognized, shutdown cornerback and perennial Pro-Bowler. Now, he must make it happen on the field.