He has used his explosion to get past blockers, and he has blown up plays with pre-snap reads. But the biggest reason why Jernigan has been so disruptive goes back to the first move he ever learned in football.
When Jernigan was 9-years-old, his father showed him how to use the swim move to slip past offensive linemen. It's a classic football technique where the defensive lineman uses his outside arm on the back of the offensive lineman and then "swims" his inside arm over his shoulder to eventually get around the blocker.
"It's something that I've kept with me," Jernigan said. "I've kind of perfected it by now."
During Wednesday's practice, Jernigan wreaked havoc as part of the second-team defense. He ripped past rookie guard John Urschel for what would've been a tackle behind the line, and he would've had a sack on Tyrod Taylor (if contact was allowed on quarterbacks).
Jernigan is currently backing up Haloti Ngata, but his knack for making big plays will earn him more playing time in the defensive rotation. The development of Jernigan should allow the Ravens to rest Ngata more, which will allow the 30-year-old defensive tackle to be fresher late in games and later in the season.
At this point in camp, the Ravens believe they got a steal in Jernigan, who lasted until the middle of the second round because of a diluted drug test at the NFL combine.
The biggest challenge for Jernigan is playing within the scheme. The Ravens don't want him to freelance too much to get in the backfield and leave the rest of the defense vulnerable.
"I’m really pleased with where he is coming and learning every day a little bit more about the system, because it’s a lot different than what he did at Florida State," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "But [he is] very active. And talking to the San Francisco coaches, they commented on a couple of our guys up there, young guys, and he was one of them. It’s always good when you get somebody on the opposing team [to] tell you that they think [a] guy is a pretty good player.”