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News » NFL DRAFT


NFL DRAFT


NFL DRAFT
Malcolm Jenkins' resume in pursuit of employment as an NFL cornerback used to be impeccable.


He started for 3 1/2 seasons at Ohio State. In 52 games, he made 11 interceptions (returning two for touchdowns), forced four fumbles, sometimes blitzed from the edge (14 tackles for loss) and was a standout on special teams. In 2008, he was named an All-American, won the Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back and was a team captain.

Then came the smudge. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55

seconds at the NFL scouting combine in February and in a consensus of 4.52 seconds at Ohio State's pro day in March.

quot;Sub-4.5, he's a top 10 pick; 4.55, he's a late first-round pick,quot; ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. quot;Some now think he's the third corner behind (Illinois' Vontae) Davis and (Connecticut's Darius) Butler.

quot;I still have him as the top corner. I like the kid.quot;

The questioning entering the NFL draft Saturday is this: Is Jenkins fast enough to be a cornerback or should he be considered a safety?

Yet Jenkins smiled like a man with inside knowledge as the noise swirled.

quot;I've learned that that part of it is all media,quot; he said. quot;The teams, a lot of the coaches don't put a whole lot into the numbers. They see the film. They know what kind of guy they're getting as far being smart and playing the game.

quot;Maybe I didn't run the fastest 40, but when you turn on the tape, you see that I play fast, I know the game, I'm smart and I use my size (6 feet 1, 201 pounds) to my advantage.quot;

Herman Edwards agreed. Edwards, a former coach of the Chiefs and Jets, said questions are part of the pre-draft game.

quot;We all knock 'em down now; we all beat 'em up,quot; said Edwards, an analyst for ESPN this draft. quot;In the beginning, he was (highly rated), but now there's concerns? ... When you watch this guy play Football, you want him on your Football team.quot;

If he can't make it as a cornerback, Kiper said, quot;he could move inside to safety. People say, 'That's not the reason (to take him high).' Hey, when Ronnie Lott was drafted, there were a lot of people who thought he would be a corner, then a safety.quot;

Lott, drafted eighth overall in 1981, ended up at safety for the San Francisco 49ers, where he won four Super Bowls. He is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

At least seven teams, including the Cleveland Browns , have cornerback/defensive back among their top three draft priorities; that's why Jenkins' confidence of being a first-round pick is high.

The consensus of mock drafts has him going 14th to New Orleans.

quot;Having a guy who can play press man coverage, pretty much take away a side and play physical against the run, that's something that's needed in corners in the NFL,quot; Jenkins said. quot;That's because, pretty much, the receivers are getting bigger and the corners are getting smaller. So that's something (his combination of size and agility) that's a premium right now.quot;

But if he is playing safety three years from now, he won't be heartbroken.

quot;Safety is not a bad position, but, for some reason, there is this negative stigma about it,quot; Jenkins said. quot;When you've got guys like (Baltimore's) Ed Reed and (Pittsburgh's) Troy Polamalu, safety is not a bad deal, especially when you're making plays.quot;

tmay@dispatch.com



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 24, 2009

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