Finding a scheme versatile defensive tackle at all is hard enough. Finding one in the draft beyond round one can be even harder. The 2011 NFL draft is expected to be the exception. With uncommon depth at both defensive end and defensive tackle there will be scheme diverse prospect lurking in round two with one of them being Clemson's Jarvis Jenkins.
Despite playing in the shadow of Da'Quan Bowers, whose 15.5 sack season is expected to make him a top 15 pick come April 28th, there was a defensive tackle lined up next to him with three years of consistent production.
Seeing playing time since he was a true freshman, Jenkins earned more and more snaps until he became a starter as a junior and his numbers throughout his career are strikingly consistent.
In 2008 in a part-time role he had 36 tackles including 10 for loss and two sacks. As a junior in 2009 and full-time starter, 69 tackles, 11 for loss and one sack. And in 2010 51 tackles, nine for loss and a sack (in three fewer games than '09). Add in four blocked kicks in his college career and the resume is reassuring.
"I can do it all," said Jenkins. "I played a lot of nose guard this past year. I played three-technique, five-technique, four-eye. There are a lot of things that can be moved around and do because of my size and quickness."
That quickness was on display at the Senior Bowl where teamed with Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor the duo was unstoppable for the South Team in their 24-10 victory.
"We established a relationship and held each other accountable and trusted each other and pushed the pocket to make it easier for the ends and the linebackers," said Jenkins. "That's what me and Phil (Taylor) did."
Jenkins along with Clemson junior defensive tackle Brandon Thompson helped to make life easy for Bowers, who had a breakout season as a pass rusher. Jenkins doesn't mind seeing his teammate get all the publicity believing he received his just due.
"Da'Quan he's an unbelievable player and I got the recognition I deserved for pushing the pocket and getting him single blocks," said Jenkins. "People notice that stuff. When a guy has 15.5 sacks you wonder how does a guy get single teamed, and you analyze the whole defensive line and you see that the two inside guys causing the single block. I get good recognition. I'm not the kind of guy that likes attention, but if you give me attention I'm going to take it."
A happy go lucky type player, Jenkins often lifts the play of his teammates up and plays inspired, something not always seen with 300-plus pound interior defensive linemen. And his willingness to do the things that aren't always noticed speaks to his team first attitude.
"I don't mind the dirty work, as long as we're winning that's all that matters," he said. "As long as we're winning games I'm happy."
Having a former NFL assistant as his defensive coordinator for a time in Kevin Steele, Jenkins feels has only prepared him all the more for the pro game.
"Coming from an NFL defense, Kevin Steele a coach from the Carolina Panthers he kind of mixed it up a lot," he said. "I've done the two gap, the three technique ,one-I, tilt, head up, four –I, so I think that kind of helps me to be versatile and go into any program and be ready for anything and be prepared in knowing the job that I can do. That's the good thing of learning those things in college and taking it to the NFL and actually getting a head start on it."
Jenkins wants to improve his pass rush first and foremost at the next level. He feels he's proven himself as a run stopper, but realizes if he can not only push the pocket, but get sacks he has the chance to be one of the better interior defenders.
"Sacks get you paid, sacks get you in the Hall of Fame," he said. "That's what I've got to do."
What Jenkins did already was put forth a strong pro day at Clemson on March 10th, which included a sub five-second 40 time at 6'4" 310 pounds (4.93), along with improvements on the bench, broad jump and vertical leap from the numbers he posted at the NFL combine.
"Jarvis Jenkins is a second round defensive tackle, worst case scenario," said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock. "There's a buzz about this kid. He's a very good player and he had a great workout."
Throughout the month of April, we are running 2011 NFL Draft prospect stories each week. In addition, Bills fans can vote in the Bills and M&T Bank Draft Day Challenge who they think will be the Bills first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and have the chance to win a Bills Game Day Experience to remember. Five grand prize winners will get sideline passes, M&T Bank Club tickets that include food and beverage, a Bills Alumni meet and greet and a Bills helmet. Click here to vote.