Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Jenkins jack of all trades, master of none
By Matt Williamson
The Eagles were highly active in re-signing their own on the offensive side of the ball before free agency opened. Those were moves that I praised and it allowed Philadelphia to concentrate on the defensive side of the ball, where they could use a little of everything.
But I considered safety as their top need. They wasted little time to address that need and signed Malcolm Jenkins away from the Saints yesterday.
What does Jenkins bring to the Eagles' defense?
Jenkins can be viewed two ways in my opinion -- either from a glass half full or a glass half empty standpoint. Jenkins came into the league as a first-round cornerback after making the switch from safety at Ohio State. He quickly failed as a corner and was moved to safety, which is clearly the better fit for what he is able to do. However, contrary to popular belief, I don't think he has been a raging success as a safety either.
Those who like Jenkins describe him as a highly versatile player who can help a defense in many ways. Jenkins has size and straight-line speed. He can play the deep middle or deep half. He is a good blitzer and can walk down and cover a slot receiver. He can play some man to man against wide receivers. But I contend that he isn't well above average in any of these particular areas and is a player whom quarterbacks should target. He can make quarterbacks pay by converting big plays but also can take too many risks. His hips are not fluid enough to keep up with the typical slot receiver and Jenkins is at his best in a straight line.
Is he a bad player? No, but I don't see him as this highly versatile do-it-all star, but rather close to a jack of all trades but master of none.
There is quite a bit of ability here and it is easy to see why he was a first-round pick. In fact, the 26-year-old safety played better overall this past year than he did in 2012 and is around the football more every season, so that is encouraging. I just have doubts that Jenkins is a clear difference maker than many tout him to be.
Also, while I think Earl Wolff is promising, this signing would not preclude me from drafting another safety outside of Round 1 for the Eagles. In fact, one of my favorite things about this acquisition is now the Eagles are really in a good position to just take the best defensive players available in the draft and not reach for need. That is a winning equation and further solidifies my thoughts that this is the best team in the NFC East.