Former Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan has had success everywhere he's been. In high school, he was a five-star prospect and U.S. Army All-American. He made an instant impact as a freshman in Tallahassee, and ended his college career as a defensive leader on a national championship winning team.
And now Jernigan is considered one of the top defensive linemen in this year's NFL draft.
"On the field I was definitely one of the leaders of our defense," Jernigan said. "I feel like we had probably the best defense in the country, and off the field I was a leader as well. Definitely in the weight room. I was a weight room warrior at Florida State."
Indeed, one thing that stands out about Jernigan on tape is his superior strength. At just about 6'2" and 300 pounds, he is not the most massive one-technique defensive tackle in the draft. But what he lacks in size he makes up in pure strength. His size also enables him to be more versatile.
"I feel like now in the NFL a lot of nose tackles, the big 340-, 350-pound guys, a lot of times when it's pass situation, those guys have to come off the field and I feel like that's where I can benefit a team at," Jernigan said. "I've played in the shade, I've played over the center, I've played in the three technique. When you want to go to a three-man front, you can put me on the noseguard. I can get pressure from the middle of the offense. I feel like that's where my game changes from anyone else's."
Jernigan's biggest strengths are in the run game. He is able to take on double teams and clog up the middle of the field, while also not giving up ground. He also has extremely active hands that allow him to shed blocks after engaging with linemen - a sign of a high motor.
"I definitely don't feel like it's an issue," Jernigan said when asked about his stamina. "When my number was called, when they needed Jernigan to be in the game, when I knew that I had to be in the game in order for us to win, I was there."
One concern about Jernigan's play is his speed off the snap. He has never been able to consistently fire off the ball, a trait that would make him a much better pass rusher in particular. In college Jernigan was able to negate the initial disadvantage this creates by overpowering his opponents, but he may not be able to do so in the NFL.
Some believe that this is a coachable correction to make, and those scouts have Jernigan higher ranked than the others. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock currently has Jernigan as his number two rated defensive tackle, and most mock drafts have him going anywhere from the middle of the first round to early in the second.
Jernigan does not have much of a preference on where to go, despite living in Florida his whole life.
"I love the cold weather. That's the weird part about it. I'm a Florida boy, but I love cold weather," Jernigan said. "I think I play better in the cold. I'm ready for it. Whatever pitch is thrown at me, man, I'm ready to stand at the plate."