Could Pats absorb troubled CB Jenkins?

Could Pats absorb troubled CB Jenkins?
March 30, 2012, 2:00 pm
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Last April, the troubled son of the NFL Draft was Ryan Mallett.

Attitude concerns and rumors of drug use sent his stock freefalling and -- in a draft where more than a quarter of the league was shopping for quarterbacks -- Mallett fell to the team with the best quarterback in the league, the Patriots.

(Read this feature by one of the best writers out there, ESPN's Elizabeth Merrill).

This year's Mallett is North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins.

Chased out of Florida, the lanky corner ended up in Division II. Now, he's trying to put a buff-and-shine on his reputation with the NFL Draft less than a month away.

Jeffri Chadiha spent time with Jenkins and laid out the issues and concerns in this piece.

Some team is going to roll the dice on Jenkins the same way the Patriots did on Mallett. It has to be a team with a strong program in place. It has to be a team with a no BS locker room and solid leadership and workers in the secondary group to ensure Jenkins sees what being a pro is about. It has to be a team where the head coach and personnel man is empowered to turn in a card with Jenkins' name on it and not worry about how his job security will be affected if Jenkins goes South.

A team like the Patriots is the kind of team that will most likely draft Jenkins.

Could it be the Patriots? Some experts -- including ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. -- think so. Kiper has the Patriots taking Jenkins with the 31st pick in the first round in his most recent mock draft.

The pros to Jenkins are that he's a plug-and-play corner who could walk in and play the "star" position in the Patriots defense right away. At 5-10, 192, he's got good length. During his time at Florida, he dealt with the A.J. Greens and Julio Jones' and more than held his own.

But demon weed and Gainesville's proximity to Jenkins' hometown of Pahokee conspired to make Florida coach Will Muschamp throw up his hands.

Bill Belichick is tight enough with Muschamp to get the skinny on whether Jenkins -- already a father of four children -- can overcome the obstacles he's erected for himself.

Belichick also is tight enough with former Florida coach Urban Meyer to find out if the player Meyer recruited out of high school is, at his core, a decent kid.

If it's established that Jenkins could succeed, the next most important step would be making sure he's surrounded by pros. The 2009 secondary group? Not pros. The 2012 secondary group? Pros.

Among the corners, Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Sterling Moore take their jobs with seriousness. Same with safeties Patrick Chung, James Ihedigbo and the other core players back there.

And it goes without saying that Belichick has the sway to go whichever way he wants during the draft and be above reproach from analysts who practically race to buzz in and say, "Brilliant move there by the Patriots and Bill Belichick..." as draft coverage unfolds.

The only question is whether the Patriots see all-important value in a player like Jenkins.

"Whenever you take any player you have everything that comes with them. So, whatever that is, their personality, their size, their speed their instincts, their . . . everything," Belichick said when asked about weighing conduct concerns. "You get the whole thing, so put them all together, its a mosaic of components and thats what you have and you put some kind of value on it. Whatever thats worth.

We'll find out what it's worth as it relates to Jenkins in less than a month.