When it comes to the New York Jets and expectations for linebacker Jordan Jenkins, he’ll be eased into a situational role to highlight his strengths.
The New York Jets completely revamped their linebacker corps this offseason. In the 2016 NFL Draft, they added Darron Lee in the first round and later in the third round, Jordan Jenkins entered the equation.
But the bigger addition that should really eat into Jenkins reps is CFL star Freddie Bishop. Head coach Todd Bowles likes a rotational system with his outside linebackers, so Jenkins is due for some playing time this season, no matter what happens.
Jenkins was compared to his counterpart Leonard Floyd who went in the top-10 in this year’s draft. While everyone fell in love with the metrics and potential of Floyd at the next level, Jenkins actually has an advantage over him.
Jenkins was the more consistent player, he never would wow you with his athleticism on tape, but he’s a blue collar player who brings his lunch pail in every day. For lack of a better comparison, he’s a 2016 version of Calvin Pace, except much younger.
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His early expectations should be as a rotational pass rusher on third down and more importantly as an edge setter in the running game on early downs.
The Jets have a ton of youth and unproven talent on the outside and they’re banking on the fact they’ll find a diamond in the rough in this rambunctious group.
The other great thing about the Jenkins/Mauldin pairing is their versatility.
Bowles spoke about that with the Media Relations Department of the Jets:
On if there was a particular reason that Coach Bowles decided to start Lorenzo Mauldin at Will linebacker and Jordan Jenkins at Sam linebacker…
(We did it to give them a chance to be) on the field at once, plus he (Jenkins) played (the strong side more) in college. He was (more) use to playing over the tight end a little more. They (move) the tight end so much they are both going to be interchangeable. You say Sam and Will by alignment, but what they do on offense dictates who is the Sam and who is the Will.
There’s concerns about Floyd’s weight and whether he’ll get pushed around at the next level. The questions with Jenkins stemmed around his limited ability to get after the quarterback. Bowles answered that question as well:
On why Jenkins did not record more sacks in college…
I can’t really explain that. I was looking more at the player. Sometime schemes differ in college than they are in the pros. When you play over the tight end side, generally, they slide the protection that way quite a bit. I’m not saying he should have had more or shouldn’t have had more. We just know he is a good football player. But I can’t speak for them schematically.
It’s a similar evaluation to quarterback Christian Hackenberg for the Jets because it’s more than just the stats. The Jets looked at the tools, glimpses of what he could be and made a decision on those factors and said in their system, they can expound upon their talents.
So in terms of early expectations, Jenkins is going to see the field in a similar role that Mauldin did last season. The difference being that last year, the Jets had Quinton Coples and Pace eating up reps, both of those players are off the team.
So someone has to take advantage of those and the beneficiaries will be the younger players on the roster. It’s a bittersweet situation because as green as some of these guys are, the Jets really don’t have many alternatives. It should be a great situation for Jenkins to take advantage of the playing time he’ll see and hopefully, everything falls into place.