Two incidents of late seem to have sparked even more controversy with Jenkins, first that he fired his agent weeks before the draft. This is far more common than you think. Agent Greg Linton said on twitter that multiple players have switched agents in the past few months. It’s just something that usually goes unreported.
Jenkins was represented by CAA, a huge agency that wasn’t dedicating enough time to him. Ian Rapoport recently wrote about his switch at length. Jenkins was not fired as was misreported, he chose to switch agencies to get more personal attention.
The next falsehood being reported is that Jenkins told teams that he kept smoking while at North Alabama. Braddock reported that Jenkins has been drug tested every two weeks since leaving Florida and hasn’t failed a single one.
The lesson? Don’t believe everything you hear around draft season. Teams are constantly trying to throw out false information to get other teams scared. Jenkins is a player with a lot to question in his background, and throwing out more questionable information will only lower him on teams’ boards.
I have nothing to gain from defending Jenkins. I have never spoken to his agent (new or old), I am not a Florida fan, nor a North Alabama fan. Maybe I’m just playing the role of Sandy Cohen (you know, father on “The OC”, defense attorney… Okay, I lost you at “The OC”) and defending “the little guy,” but with so many people assuming the worst about a person, someone has to be there to assume the best.
Based on talent alone, Jenkins would be a top ten pick. He’s a pure cover corner who can play press man just as well as off zone. He plays bigger than his 5’10” frame, he’s a great tackler, has loose hips in his transitions. He was so good at Florida that teams would target Joe Haden over him.
I can admit that the arrests can push him mid-late in the first round. That I have no problem with. But the third round grades and the statements like “I don’t want that thug on my team” are what really get me.
People can question his decision making off the field as much as they want, whether that’s over his decision to smoke in public or to have children, but we don’t know how that’s going to affect him on the field or in the locker room, which is what’s most important.
The fact that people are willing to call him a “thug” for having four children might be the thing that gets me the most. Jenkins told Braddock that his first child was with his high school girlfriend, and his last two are with his current girlfriend. We don’t know how he cares for them. We don’t know that he’s not a part of their life. We don’t know how well he supports them. We don’t know, so why are we assuming the worst? There’s a 20 year old top five consensus pick that has kids that are three and five years old, are we questioning his character?
Plenty of professional athletes have children at a young age, and it doesn’t affect their on-field play or off-field behavior at all. It’s only because of the almost TMZ-type reporting going on today that we even know that Jenkins has four kids. Hey, not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s a certain future hall of fame quarterback that has two kids from two different women. And, gasp, he wasn’t married to the first one.
I understand that everyone has their own beliefs and everyone has their own moral ground to stand on, but that doesn’t need to become a part of evaluation on our part.
I see Jenkins as one part poor decisions and one part unlucky. Everyone makes mistakes, but most of us lucky ones are lucky enough to not do them in the eye of police. There’s also the fact that college athletes, especially those at Florida, seemed to be able to get away with a lot without many repercussions. Urban Meyer did a good job of burying the issues, then he left and Jenkins was kicked out by Will Muschamp and forced to transfer to North Alabama.
Rooting for a team that’s given chances to Brandon Meriweather (was swinging helmets at other players during an on-field brawl), Aaron Hernandez (weed), Brandon Spikes (eye gouging, weed) and Ryan Mallett (rumored harder drugs than those that Jenkins was caught with), I would have absolutely no problem with Jenkins being a first round pick.
As Patriots fans, we should feel extremely lucky New England wasn’t one of the 31 teams that passed on Aaron Hernandez. Years from now, lets hope we feel the same about Janoris Jenkins.