Chicago Bears: A.J. Jenkins

Chicago Bears second-round pick Alshon Jeffery initially declined an invitation to attend the NFLPA Rookie Premiere event to be held in Los Angeles from May 17-20 because he was reluctant to skip portions of the club's offseason workout program following last weekend's rookie minicamp.

But Jeffery altered his plans when informed of a provision in Article 21 of the 2011 CBA which addresses the necessity for clubs to permit the absence of rookies to participate in the event. In addition, players are not able to work out with their respective teams if they turn down the chance to attend the Rookie Premiere, according to an NFLPA spokesperson.

The 35 rookies in attendance at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere, which will include Jeffery, will be photographed at the Rose Bowl in their respective professional jerseys by trading card companies Panini America and Topps. The 2012 rookies will also be the first class to don the NFL's new Nike uniforms.

Other rookies to receive an invite with local ties include: former Notre Dame and current Arizona Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd, San Francisco 49ers first-round choice and ex-Illinois wideout A.J. Jenkins and Joliet Catholic Academy product and Indianapolis Colts second-round selection tight end Coby Fleener.

Illini's Mercilus, Jenkins go in Round 1

April, 26, 2012
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Whitney MercilusScott Boehm/Getty ImagesThe Texans will count on Whitney Mercilus, whom they selected out of Illinois in the first round on Thursday, to replace departed free agent Mario Williams.

Illinois junior defensive end Whitney Mercilus and senior wide receiver A.J. Jenkins were selected in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday.

Mercilus was drafted by the Houston Texas as the No. 26 pick. Jenkins was taken by the San Francisco 49ers with the 30th pick.

Mercilus entered the draft following a breakout junior season during which he led the nation with 16 sacks, 1.23 sacks per game and nine forced fumbles. He also had 57 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries, one pass break-up and one fumble recovery. He was given the Ted Hendricks Award for the best defensive end in the country.

Jenkins caught 90 passes for 1,276 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He led the Big Ten and was 16th in the nation with 6.9 receptions per game. He had 12 receptions for 268 yards in a win over Northwestern last season. He finished his Illini career ranked third in receptions (167), receiving yards (2,432) and receiving touchdowns (19).

“My agent told me I was going to be pretty much in late first, early second round,” Jenkins said by teleconference. “It just caught me off guard because I was in the bathroom. My cousin ran to the door with the phone in his hand. I was like, ‘Wow.’ It was just crazy.”

Mercilus and Jenkins are the fourth and fifth Illinois players to be drafted in the first round in the last five years. They join defensive tackle Corey Liuget (San Diego Chargers, 2011), cornerback Vontae Davis (Miami Dolphins, 2009) and Rashard Mendenhall (Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008) as recent first-round picks.

Illinois had three players drafted in the first three rounds last year.

Illini WR Jenkins' draft stock rising

April, 17, 2012
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A.J. JenkinsAP Photo/Tom OlmscheidMel Kiper Jr. has Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins going to Jacksonville in the second round of his mock draft.
Wide receivers Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright stole the headlines at the NFL combine two months ago, but Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins has seen his draft rise in recent weeks, to the point where ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper believes Jenkins will be an early second-round pick.

Kiper has Jenkins going to Jacksonville at No. 38 in his latest mock draft.

"I've been on a world tour, man," Jenkins said in a phone interview with ESPNChicago.com. "I traveled to Baltimore, Jacksonville, Kansas City and San Francisco all in the span of a week, and I've got future visits coming up with the Titans, Panthers and Rams."

When he hasn't been on the road, Jenkins can be found training in Champaign where he continues to work toward his degree. A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Jenkins led the Illini with 90 catches for 1,276 yards and eight touchdowns, including a monster performance versus Northwestern when he hauled in 12 passes for 228 yards and three scores.

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