After choosing three consecutive offensive players in the 2017 draft, Los Angeles Chargers finally gave new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley some reinforcements when they picked Miami Safety Rayshawn Jenkins on Day 3. With the depth of the safety position in this year’s draft, it's not surprising the Chargers waited this long to pick one up. The word is that this was very much Bradley’s decision and who he wanted to come in and play the ‘Kam Chancellor role’ in the Bolts defense. Adding to this, after the pick was made Tom Telesco was asked about Jenkins’ role next year which he replied, “Probably some strong safety but he’ll come in a compete for a role”. The second part of this is of course a very political answer but it’s the first part that intrigues me. For now, let’s dive into some tape and see what Jenkins can bring to the Chargers.
First and foremost, Jenkins is an athlete, an impressive one at that. At the combine, he ranked 3rd out of all defensive backs on the bench press (19 reps), 4th in the vertical (37 inches) and board jump (10'8") and 6th in the 40 yard dash (4.51 seconds).
When you put on the film, the first thing you notice is Jenkins’ aggressive nature. On almost every play he’s looking to lay to boom on the opposition. He actively looks for an extra hit even if he’s not necessarily involved in the play. Whether he’s going one on one with a running back or the balls up in the air, he’s going to make sure he leaves a mark on the player. This certainly has advantages and disadvantages:
The play above is a good example of where Jenkins can excel in coverage. After sitting back in zone, he has perfect timing to come up and make a play on the ball, and the receiver, almost ending up in an inception for his teammate.
Unfortunately, this is about as far as it goes in wanting the hard-hitting safety in coverage. Some of Jenkins’ best attributes are his size, speed and athleticism, which he showed off at the combine. This allows him to be able to run with running backs and tight ends but does struggle if the play isn’t happening in front of him.
Like I said previously, being this aggressive has its downfalls, and Jenkins’ biggest one is his tackling. If you put on a highlight reel you could easier label Jenkins as a ‘tone-setter’ but realistically, he misses more than he makes. The Miami product often leads with his head and doesn’t always wrap up, which sounds a little bit like another Chargers safety. When Jenkins hits, there’s no problem, for instance, here he is leaving a mark on 2nd round running back Dalvin Cook:
But too often, it ends up like this:
As I mentioned earlier, Jenkins has very good speed, which allows him to be very good blitzer and Miami utilized that a lot.
Here he is coming from very deep, but timing it perfectly to almost take the QB’s head off forcing an incomplete pass.
This is where I see Jenkins contributing the most in his first year. He’ll be a situational defensive back brought in to blitz and brought in on obvious running downs. He should easily make the team on special teams alone, uses his speed to potentially be used as a gunner replacing Darrell Stuckey, who enters the final year of his contract.
I do like Jenkins' potential, and I think he might become Bradley's project, but I do question the strategy around the pick. Almost everything I've mentioned above you could associated with fellow safety Jahleel Addae, who the team gave a very nice four year, $22 million contract this offseaon. So, although Telesco says Jenkins will play strong safety this year, I can't see them Addae taking off the field very often. I thought they might target a cover safety in the draft this year, but maybe 5th round pick Desmond King will be able to fight for some playing time there.
It looks like we could be set for another season with the majority of snaps taken up by Addae and Lowery at the safety position, unless Jenkins or King can force their way in. Do you think Jenkins will see time on the field in 2017 and did you agree with the strategy of the pick? Feel free to leave your comments below.