Things got a little bit awkward in the media room at the NFL combine Sunday afternoon.
Janoris Jenkins had to know what was coming. If anything, explaining himself to the media had to be easier than explaining himself to NFL coaches and team front offices.
I had just grabbed a chicken sandwich from the lunch line and was topping it with all the fixings when they announced, “Janoris Jenkins, cornerback, North Alabama, podium C.” I ran with plate in hand. I knew this press conference was going to be the most interesting one of the weekend.
Jenkins would be an extremely sought after CB had his past troubles been, well, not so troubling. Jenkins was dismissed from the University of Florida after his junior year.
“I failed one drug test at Florida,” Jenkins said. “I got arrested three times, one for a bar fight and two for possession of marijuana.”
The room got eerily quiet.
Jenkins showed that he could perform right away at Florida earning all-SEC accolades with 39 tackles and 2 interceptions his freshman year. His last year at Florida, he was an all-SEC selection in 2010 after recording 43 tackles and 3 interceptions. During his time with the Gators he had 8 career interceptions.
After he was dismissed from Florida, he played at division II school North Alabama. There he recorded 53 tackles and 2 interceptions. He also finished second in division II in punt returns.
Back to the concern at hand, however.
“I admitted to everything,” Jenkins said of his combine interviews. “I take full responsibility. I learned from it. It made me a stronger person, taught me how to fight through reality, that I’ve got to separate myself from certain guys, certain people. To be successful at the next level, I can’t do the things I used to do.”
It’s easier said than done, especially when players coming out of college are now making millions of dollars. That can easily turn into millions of bad decisions. Jenkins did keep his nose clean at North Alabama.
Jenkins will likely be taken in the first round of the draft by somebody like the Cowboys who have been known to select high-risk players in the past (plus their secondary needs a lot of help).
Jenkins ran an unofficial 4.44 in the 40-yard dash at the combine Tuesday morning.
Basically when teams interview players at the combine who have gotten themselves into trouble like Jenkins, they are looking to see if it was a case of straight up trouble or a case of immaturity. “Are you a thug or are you stupid,” teams will indirectly ask in late-night interviews.
Jenkins will get the chance to prove himself in the NFL. His talent is to great not to draft him in a high round. His off-the-field experience is what’s in question.