Florida LB Jelani Jenkins Officially Enters NFL Draft

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2013

Nov 24, 2012; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida Gators linebacker Jelani Jenkins (3) runs the ball after an interception against the Florida State Seminoles during the first half at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NFL draft class just got a lot better, as Florida Gators junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins has thrown his hat in the ring for April's big event, according to head coach Will Muschamp (via GatorZone.com). 

Jenkins finished the 2012 regular season with 29 total tackles and two sacks in 10 games. It was actually the worst year of his college career, as he racked up 151 total tackles the previous two seasons combined. 

A big part of Jenkins' problems this season came as the result of a thumb injury he suffered in the second game of the season against Texas A&M. He sat out the next two games against Tennessee and Kentucky before returning against LSU. 

Despite being back on the field, Jenkins clearly wasn't the same player he was before the injury. Since it was a hand injury, there is no reason to think it will have a lasting impact on his ability to play at the next level. 

Before the start of the season, Bleacher Report NFL Draft guru Matt Miller had Jenkins at No. 25 on his big board. Miller wrote that Jenkins is "a menace off the edge, but concerns about his height (6'0") will push this athletic superman down in the first round."

The injury and lack of performance during the season drastically altered Jenkins' stock, as Miller had him listed as a fourth-round pick heading into the bowl games.

However, just because Jenkins' stock is down a bit doesn't mean his future outlook is bleak. It does mean that he will have a lot of work to do in order to get back in the good graces of NFL scouts and executives who have soured on him. 

Of course, his diminished stock could make Jenkins one of the best value picks in the entire draft.