A former first-round pick (No. 25) of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2008 NFL Draft, current Oakland Raiders CB Mike Jenkins quickly became one of the rising stars in the NFL. After sitting behind starters CB Terence Newman and CB Orlando Scandrick his rookie season, Jenkins was given the opportunity to start in 2009, and he did not disappoint.
After recording only 19 tackles, one interception (returned for touchdown) and four passes defensed his rookie campaign, Jenkins burst onto the scene his sophomore season with a career-year. In 2009, Jenkins racked up 49 tackles, five interceptions, and a team-high 19 passes defensed, on his way to being named to his first Pro Bowl. Teamed up with Newman, the Cowboys formed one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL. However, the success was short lived and in 2010, Jenkins had one of his worst seasons ever.
In 2010, Jenkins led the team in defensive penalties (8), while giving up big play after big play as he tried to either under cut a route or guess where the ball would be thrown. To make matters worse, Jenkins was ripped apart when he opted not to tackle a Packers wide receiver near the goal-line, as he would rather let the receiver score without putting much up of a fight. Everyone noticed it, and former NFL analyst Jim Mora Jr., voice his displeasure saying:
To me, this is high treason. An NFL football player does not turn down a play like that. And if I’m Jason Garrett, the first thing that I’m doing when I take over as the head coach of this team, is I’m getting guys like that — number 21, who absolutely committed treason, let his team down by passing up a tackle and let the ball get in the end zone — I’m taking him and I’m getting him out of my locker room.
Jenkins responded, to Mora’s comments with 100 percent in agreement with his assessment, saying:
I gave up on a play. I came back and I made a couple of more tackles. I’m a good player. I try not get caught up in all that. If I do, I would go crazy. It is what it is.
So with Jenkins admittedly giving up on plays, what can the Raider Nation expect in 2013? A player that made him a Pro Bowl talent in 2009.
At 28 years old, Jenkins still has the smarts that made him a Pro Bowl caliber player. And although he does not have the speed and agility that made him a first-round pick in 2008, Jenkins size at 5-foot-10, 198 pounds, should be enough to lock down one of the corner positions. And if not for his physique, then his veteran leadership should help lead a young secondary.
With first-round pick CB D.J. Hayden being counted on, Jenkins should help in his maturation process. Sure the Raiders brought back DB Charles Woodson, but having another veteran to learn from can only help Hayden’s growth as a player.
With Jenkins now donning the silver and black, look for him to make some big plays and have some huge interceptions, as he will be a valuable asset in 2013.