Aug 8, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver A.J. Jenkins (17) catches a pass during warmups before the game against the Denver Broncos at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Vincent Hall checks in with a thought about a player the Jets should consider signing, should he not make the cut with his current team.
It’s that time of year that with each preseason game starts a round of roster cuts as teams start to trim down to the final 53 man roster. This is both sad, as some of the fan favorites don’t make the team (Danny Woodhead a few years back), and also some of those late round draft picks. Last year alone Robert Griffin and Terrance Ganaway, both late round picks didn’t make it.
Recently NFL.COM posted some players that are sitting on the outside of the bubble. Our very own Joe McKnight was one of them, as he hasn’t seen time in the preseason yet, and has had some strange behavioral issues as of late. However, the glass isn’t always empty. The very same report had San Francisco’s A.J. Jenkins being a possible roster casualty in San Fran. How much truth to that there is, I’m not going to speculate, but I did a little digging and there are multiple reports saying the same thing. Here’s why one team’s loss is another teams gain.
If you don’t know who A.J. Jenkins is he was a late bloomer from last season’s 2012 draft. He played wide receiver for Illinois, and moved his draft stock up from a 5th round pick at the beginning of 2011 NCAA season to an early 2nd round value by the 2012 draft. He blew up his senior year catching 84 passes for 1,200 yards and 7 TD’s. He was Illinois’ go-to guy. If you watch his highlight film the guy hand catches everything, and never lets anything get to his body. He ran by everyone in the Big 10 and took the top off of defenses. Then the combine came around, and the guy ran a 4.37 40’ at 6’ and 190 lbs. His draft stock shot through the roof. The 49ers’ actually drafted him in the 1st round of 2012.
Now comes the bad news. Since that time, Jenkins has struggled mightily adapting to the NFL game and the 49ers’ bullying smashmouth, and pistol based offense. The guy is clearly a more finesse receiver, and his body type does not support a physical run blocking and hot route type of offense based off run heavy/pistol hybrid offense. Last season A.J.’s stock went from 1st rounder, to buried on the depth chart, to in the dog house. Preseason game 1 saw him catch no passes although 9 other receivers did. There are reports that he may be 4th or 5th on the depth chart at this point, and in danger of being the first 1st round pick to be cut by his drafting team the following season.
Now the glass is half full. Although he may be cut, it does not mean he is a bad player. His skill set just doesn’t match what the 49ers’ want to do. The fact that they want to move Vernon Davis TE to WR a lot shows the intent to have more physical run blocking types of receivers on the field, of which AJ is not. What he is however, is a great fit for a west coast style offense, based on movement and spreading the ball around. His hands and separation are what create a great receiver in this league.
I’m not saying it’s a match made in heaven, or that it’s even going to happen, but the Jets better be on the phone ready to put in a claim on A.J. if he is cut by the 49ers’. The 49ers’ loss could be the Jets biggest gain, particularly in the time during Santonio Holmes’s recovery. His low salary in the new rookie cap could be easily ingested by the Jets cap room. He would also give the Jets another weapon at receiver, which they could definitely use. Go watch the tape of A.J. Jenkins Illinois against any Big 10 opponent and tell me what you think.