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Prospect Spotlight: Kris Jenkins could be a great fit for the Chiefs

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By: Caleb James


Could the Chiefs look to the Michigan standout to help bolster their defensive line?

The NFL Scouting Combine is underway, and on Thursday, defensive linemen got a chance to work out and show their athletic ability. One player who should stand out to the Kansas City Chiefs is defensive tackle Kris Jenkins.

Testing numbers

Jenkins had a good showing at the NFL Combine. Measuring 6’2″ and 299 lbs., he is slightly undersized for a traditional NFL defensive tackle, but his 34″ long arms make up for a lot of the size disparity.

Clocking a 4.91 40-yard dash, as well as a 30-inch vertical and a 9’07” broad jump, he was one of the most explosive defensive tackle prospects to work out in Indianapolis. In the past few seasons, the Chiefs have taken primarily players with good-to-elite workout numbers, and Jenkins matches this perfectly.

While his workout numbers are impressive, it is easy to see why he would be a good fit for the Chiefs when you turn on his film.

Run defense

The biggest strength Jenkins brings is his ability to defend against the run.

While he does lack some height, he used this to his advantage on the field. Jenkins plays the game with natural leverage, and when combined with great lateral quickness and tremendous lower-body strength, he dominates the point-of-attack.

Jenkins’ play strength pops off the tape almost instantly. Ohio State is attempting to run an outside zone look. Lined up in a 3-technique, Jenkins is not the first player who should be in on this play, but he does a great job fighting over the face of the left guard and preventing the reach block.

The guard has to grab ahold of Jenkins, but he is able to work through the contact, and as the running back looks to make his cut, he is there to make the stop.

Jenkin’s strength made it hard for blockers to move him, even when they had a running start.

Ohio State runs a counter, and they leave Jenkins unblocked initially on the play side. The left guard is pulling to “kick out” Jenkins and open up a lane for the back. Jenkins quickly recognizes the play and delivers a shot to the pulling guard.

The contact stuns the guard, and he cannot make any movement with his block. Jenkins holds the line and then works his way inside of the block to wrap up the running back for a minimal gain.

The elite run defense and good testing numbers will make Jenkins a highly coveted prospect, but his potential as a pass rusher could drive his stock higher.

Pass rush

During his time at Michigan, Jenkins had only modest production as a pass rusher. With only four career sacks — two in 2022 and two in 2023— along with a more compact frame, it is likely he might not be a high-level rusher in the NFL.

That said, his athletic profile and long arms will be enticing to teams who are looking to get the most out of his abilities.

Jenkins primarily used power rushes at Michigan, but later in his career, he created an effective rush combination with the power into a spin move.

To counter his power, it was not uncommon to see guards try to jump-set Jenkins and try to shut down his power rushes before they could get going.

To counter this, Jenkins started to use a spin move to pressure the quarterback.

The right guard sets laterally and tries to get hands on Jenkins quickly to stop the power rush, but as his hands rise to absorb the contact Jenkins quickly spins his way into the A gap and works into the backfield to pressure the quarterback.

The spin move is a great counter against offensive linemen who will look to jump-set him and be aggressive, but he was also able to use it against linemen looking to mirror and anchor.

The right guard is initially patient in his set, and as Jenkins starts to work to the outside shoulder, the guard looks to initiate contact.

As soon as the guard starts to throw his hands, Jenkins quickly works his inside foot to the outside and then plants it with force and spins into the A gap.

The pressure is just enough to forde a poor throw from the quarterback, and the play ends in an incomplete pass.

Effective spin moves are hard to come across, but with the explosion and athletic ability possessed by Jenkins, he was able to pull it off.

He will still need to develop more of an arsenal to be a consistent NFL-caliber pass rusher, but the blueprint is there.

Fit with Kansas City

The Chiefs desperately need bodies along the defensive line, not only for depth purposes but also to play critical reps. Currently, the team only has one defensive tackle on contract for 2024 — Neil Farrel, pending a Chris Jones mega deal.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has historically favored defensive linemen who are stout against the run and can hold double teams and win the point of attack on one-on-one blocks.

Jenkins fits this mold to a tee, and if drafted by the Chiefs, he would likely be an early contributor along the defensive front.

The athletic ability would also appeal to defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who would have a chance to mold Jenkins in his image and bring the most out of his ability to rush the passer.

His ability to quickly read plays and make fast decisions would also make him a great fit for the team that has started to make a habit of drafting high-IQ football players.

The Michigan Man is a violent, intelligent, athletic football player —and he should be on the Chiefs’ radar.

Originally posted on Arrowhead Pride