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2024 NFL Draft prospect profile: Kris Jenkins, iDL, Michigan

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By: Chris Pflum

Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Can Jenkins be a disruptor in the NFL?

The New York Giants have invested heavily in their defensive front in recent years, yet they still may need to invest more.

New defensive coordinator Shane Bowen prefers to get pressure with just four rushers, and leaving seven to drop into coverage. He often employs stunts and twists twist to create confusion among blockers, which could lead the Giants to pursue smaller, more agile defensive tackles to pair with Dexter Lawrence.

Michigan’s Kris Jenkins could well fit that mold if that’s where the Giants choose to go. Jenkins is smaller than the Giants usually prefer at 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, but he’s remarkably powerful and athletic. He ranks 6th on the 2023 edition of Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freaks List”, and is remarkable for both his explosive power as well as his movement skills.

Could Jenkins add some interior burst to the Giants’ pass rush?

Prospect: Kris Jenkins (94)
Games Watched: vs. Rutgers (2023), vs. Penn State (2023), vs. Alabama (2023 – Rose Bowl Game), vs. Washington (2023 – National Championship)

Measurables

Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 305 pounds

Strengths

  • Explosiveness
  • Snap timing
  • Competitive Toughness
  • Mental Processing

Kris Jenkins is an athletic, smart, versatile, and tough interior defender.

Jenkins is modestly sized for a defensive tackle, at 6-foot-3 and roughly 300 pounds. However, he aligned all over the Michigan front, most commonly playing a 3 or 4i technique. That said, he also played 1-technique, 5-technique, and even 7-technique at times.

His game is based off of an explosive lower body and great get-off. Jenkins keys the ball well and has a very explosive first step. He does a great job of firing low and hard off the line of scrimmage when attacking gaps and is able to “get skinny” to penetrate into the backfield. Jenkins has good lateral agility to turn tight corners in the backfield as well as be an effective looper on stunts and twists. While he might not have a flashy stat sheet, Jenkins is a pretty consistent presence in opponents’ backfields. That allows him to be impactful as both a pass rusher and run defender.

Jenkins shows solid awareness and mental processing when faced with play-action and misdirection. He seldom loses track of the ball and doesn’t bite hard (or at all) on play-action. That discipline allows him to effectively pressure quarterbacks attempting to attack vertically or be in position to pursue the ball carrier.

Weaknesses

  • Play strength,
  • Speed rush technique

Jenkins is an athletic, powerful, and disruptive defensive lineman. However his disruptiveness is entirely dependent on his ability to explode off the line of scrimmage, turn speed into power, and penetrate gaps.

His effectiveness wanes significantly when blockers are prepared for his explosiveness, he isn’t able to meet them with the leverage necessary to maximize his play strength, or is forced to deal with double teams. Jenkins will need to further develop the hand usage necessary to keep himself clean when executing speed rushes against blockers who are ready for him. Likewise, he lacks the play strength to consistently overwhelm blockers when he isn’t able to secure an early leverage advantage. He can also struggle to quickly shed blocks and make plays off of blockers.

Finally, Jenkins shouldn’t be put into situations where he’s asked to hold up against double teams. He can occupy two linemen under ideal circumstances, but is often driven back off the ball if he isn’t able to establish leverage.

Game Tape

(Jenkins is Michigan iDL number 94)

Projection

Kris Jenkins projects as a rotational defensive lineman in a one-gap defense. He has the versatility to play in an odd or even front, and he could become a starter relatively early in his career in the right situation.

He’s an excellent and explosive athlete and teams will want to harness that early in obvious passing situations. Jenkins would be a natural fit on any defense that would allow him to attack individual gaps or work with big nose tackles on stunts and twists. He still has untapped upside, and coaching to make him more of a technician could allow him to harness his athleticism and take his game to a new level.

Even if Jenkins is never able to become a truly complete defensive tackle and win with technique as well as raw explosiveness, his physical traits should allow him to be an effective player. It’s difficult for offenses to ignore someone who can fire off the ball and penetrate gaps in long downs and distances.

Does he fit the Giants?
Yes.

Final Word: A solid Day 2 value

Originally posted on Big Blue View