Janoris Jenkins worth the gamble?

Janoris Jenkins worth the gamble?
February 27, 2012, 9:51 pm
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When it comes to NFL talent, where is the appropriate balance between risk and reward?

Janoris Jenkins is amping up the buzz on this annual draft question.

When you hear that name do you think Northern Alabama standout? Probably not. You likely remember him as the Florida cornerback who got booted out of school for multiple marijuana arrests and a failed drug test.

A shame. Jenkins is a first-round caliber defensive back. He's explosive, he's got good technique and coordination.

But coaches had to probe into his past at the NFL Combine. Jenkins says he looked his firing squad in the eye.

"I was honest, straightforward, told 'em I did it. I admitted to everything, I take full responsibility, and I learned from it."

He talked about the failed test, the drug charges, and the bar fight. The Combine certainly wasn't the first time he'd thought about the past; those Thursday night Northern Alabama games provided a gauge for how far he had fallen.

"There was a couple times. We didn't really play on Saturdays. My Saturdays I watched Florida, watched some of my old teammates play. It struck me, it hit me as a kid. I was just like, 'Man, I'm supposed to be there with those guys.' Just thinking about my past."

How much will teams like the Patriots think about it? Teams that need talent. Period. The 23-year old's arrest record is unimpressive -- that in combination with four children under the age of three has his basic sense of responsibility under the microscope.

Do not underestimate the need for examination.

Brandon Meriweather should be entering his prime in New England. Think about that.

The former Patriots safety should be preparing for his sixth NFL season; he should be playing on a sweet four-year deal. But he was a knucklehead in college and a knucklehead in the NFL. New England gave up on Meriweather after four seasons. The Bears tried a one-year contract but, according to Lovie Smith at the NFL Combine, that "didn't work out" either.

Meriweather has talent -- enough that the Patriots spent their 24th pick of the 2007 draft on him -- but he never grew out of the immaturity and recklessness he displayed at the University of Miami.

Jenkins is another gamble.

He says he's grown up. The dismissal from Florida called for a life change; he believes he's committed to making it.

"Eliminate myself from some of those guys I used to hang with. I think about my mom all the time and my kids. In order for me to be successful and them to have a great life or a nice life I've got to put it behind me. In order for my kids to get what they want, I can be a father to my kids and just be there with my mom."

Getting a team to commit to him is the next step. Might it be the Patriots? Depends on how how lucky they feel.