Janoris Jenkins is one of the most volatile prospects in this year’s draft, so I thought it would be worth spending some time reviewing what the “character issues” actually are and how they’ll impact his draft stock.
1) A pattern of poor decisions
I’ve had numerous people reply to me on twitter with the “but half the NFL smokes pot” defense. If this is true, such an argument basically proves why Jenkins is such a risk. If it’s possible for a large portion of the league to smoke responsibly and not get caught, then it must take a special kind of stupidity to fail multiple drug tests in a three-year span. NFL executives are more than forgiving when it comes to drug and alcohol-related arrests in college, but when a player repeatedly makes the same mistakes, that’s when the red flag gets raised.
And in Jenkins case, the poor decisions are not limited to drugs and alcohol. He has children with multiple women, he was arrested for his role in a bar fight, and was ejected from a game for throwing a punch this past season. Any one of these “character” flaws, could be overlooked, but put them together and you have a pattern of stupidity.
2) Lack of self awareness
To make matters worse, Jenkins showed absolutely no sign of changing while at North Alabama. With his NFL career very much on the line, he (by his own admission) continued to smoke and got into a fight during a game. If a player is capable of self destructing while playing in Florence, Alabama with his career on the line, he is not going to suddenly change when collecting an NFL paycheck and playing in front of 50,000 screaming fans every Sunday.
And if that wasn’t enough, shortly after changing agents (which caught the attention of the national media and raised more than a few eyebrows) he decided to take a trip to Las Vegas. Again, this alone would be completely irrelevant. He’s probably not the only prospect to visit Vegas this offseason. But would it have killed him to wait until May before making the trip? Decisions like these shows that Jenkins just doesn’t get it. His every move is being scrutinized, with millions of dollars on the line, and he just doesn’t care.
3) He’ll fall, but not that far
If Jenkins were a quarterback, his career would be over. No one will ever gamble on a franchise player with his laundry list of poor decisions. But he’s a cornerback, where athleticism (to a certain extent) trumps preparation and work ethic. For the same reason why Pacman Jones can still have a job, Jenkins will still be drafted within the first two rounds. While teams certainly aren’t excited about his off-field antics, so long as he shows up on Sunday and performs, he’ll have a job. And everything Jenkins has done on the field has indicated that he can excel in the NFL. The off-field issues may hinder his ability to reach his full potential, but even if he continues to make poor decisions, he will likely still be able to contribute on the field.