Throughout the 2018 season, fans got to see just a smidge of former fourth-round pick Rayshawn Jenkins. He was drafted as a safety, but saw most of his playing time as a linebacker in their sub-packages, although he wound up being the team’s starting free safety during their two playoff games when they trotted out seven defensive backs.
At that time, however, Jenkins was a stout 220 pounds. Without any news of it, he quietly gained weight over the offseason and was eyeing a potential fit at dime linebacker, not unlike Adrian Phillips’ recent role.
However, with the team moving on from Jahleel Addae, the FS spot is “wide open” between Jenkins, 2019 second-round pick Nasir Adderley, and Jaylen Watkins, who is coming back from a torn-ACL.
After a recent mini camp practice, head coach Anthony Lynn said that he “coached the hell out of the scout team, and Rayshawn was one of the stars.” He went on to praise Jenkins’ improved instincts and decision-making so far this offseason.
When defensive coordinator took the stand, he acknowledged that the team has been trying to pin-down the right position for Jenkins. One where his talents could really help the defense thrive when he is on the field.
His full quote from the press conference is below:
“We looked at strong safety, and then we also looked at him as a linebacker. Maybe put on some weight and get up to 220, and him playing linebacker for us. And then toward the end of the year he played free safety. But what I think he’s done now, as he thinks that free safety opportunity is there for him, he’s dropped his weight. He’s under 200 pounds. He’s faster. I think he’s got a real good focus now where we want him to play, what we’re anticipating and what we’re hopeful that he does bring to the table. And I think he’s really bought into that. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles that in training camp as well. But he’s had good OTAs now. Good OTAs.”
I’m not sure how much the trend will continue, but the Chargers have such a wealth at defensive back that the opportunities for players are astounding. If they continue to utilize five, six, or even seven defensive backs, there will be plenty of snaps to go around. At the end of the day, don’t be surprised to see Jenkins on the field more often than not if injuries continue to linger for Adderley.