The New York Jets selected linebacker Jordan Jenkins during the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He was a solid linebacker for Georgia and could potentially make an immediate impact.
The ongoing buzz around the fan base of the New York Jets is mostly centered around their first two draft picks in linebacker Darron Lee and quarterback Christian Hackenberg. With Lee still not signed by the team and the controversy surrounding Hackenberg regarding his ability to lead an NFL franchise, Gang Green’s third round selection, Jenkins out of Georgia, seems to be quietly sitting in the back row waiting to make his presence known.
The Jets have made it very clear that they view Lee as a potential inside linebacker in which would put him behind
on the overall depth chart at linebacker. Hackenberg, based off of his last few seasons at Penn State, is nowhere near ready to start and comes with big question marks regarding as to whether or not he can adapt to the NFL culture. With that being said, Jenkins could see the field much sooner than his fellow rookie draftees.
It’s no surprise the Jets are looking for immediate answers at the linebacker position. Former Jets’ linebacker Calvin Pace is gone and a reunion seems highly unlikely. At age 35, it seems very realistic that Pace has maybe another season or two left in the tank, but it won’t be with the Jets.
Linebacker Quinton Coples, a former first-round bust of Gang Green’s, was released mid-way through last season which resulted in Gotham using Sheldon Richardson at linebacker periodically during the end of last year.
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Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin showed promise in 2015 as the a strong rookie pass rusher but still needs improvement if he plans on being the team’s future every down linebacker.
“Both of them can play both [outside linebacker spots], so it gives us the flexibility to play strong and weak, left and right, or rush and drop, “Bowles said. “We’ve got a lot of flexibility there, so right now they’re both going to start out the same way. And if Jordan’s good enough to start, he’ll make his way up there. If not, we have some things for him to do until he can.”
Jenkins had a solid college career for Georgia. During his freshmen year, he quickly made a name for himself by recording 31 tackles, eight for a loss and five sacks as a true freshmen. The following season, Jenkins improved his previous numbers by recording 45 tackles, 12 for a loss and another five sacks.
He then closed out his senior season at Georgia with a strong performance recording 59 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks. He also forced a pair of fumbles and finished second on the team with 12 quarterback hits.
The Jets are entering the 2016 season with no clear front-runner at outside linebacker. Mauldin is the only clear linebacker that has a starting spot most likely locked in on defense which leaves an additional opening available for Jenkins as long as he’s able to pick up where he left off after he left Georgia.
Jenkins shouldn’t have a problem out performing Reilly during training camp. If the young rookie can out perform Bishop as well, then expect to see Jenkins penciled in as the starting linebacker opposite side Mauldin for the 2016 season.
Jenkins possesses the size and physique that Bowles seeks out for in his linebackers. There’s a very good chance that Jenkins could very well earn the starting job soon if not immediately out of training camp.