Who Will Be the Biggest Surprise of the 2013 NFL Draft?

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent IJanuary 3, 2013

Dec 29, 2011; Orlando, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive end Brandon Jenkins (49) against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the second quarter of the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl at the Citrus Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State's Brandon Jenkins is going to take the NFL by storm. Of all the college players who have declared, he will be the biggest surprise of the 2013 NFL draft. 

Jenkins missed all but one game for the Seminoles in 2012, due to a Lisfranc injury suffered in the team's first contest against Murray State. He played well in that game, logging three tackles and a sack, before the injury derailed his senior season. 

Jenkins could have taken a medical redshirt, but he made a decision to declare for the 2013 NFL draft back in November, saying:

I had a lot of time to think about things, and gain information about how this injury affected everything, so I think I came to a conclusion.  think it's time. It's been great, I love FSU, I bleed garnet and gold, it was a tough decision. I feel like my time's been good, I will enter the draft (h/t Miami Herald).


Jenkins' decision allowed him to focus solely on getting his body healthy and ready to show NFL scouts he's worthy of being drafted, and the work he's already put on tape speaks for itself.

While nobody should expect Jenkins to be drafted in the first round this April, he'll get a shot at making a roster this summer.

I'm convinced he has the skills and drive to make a huge impact in the NFL next season, most likely as a 3-4 outside linebacker. With that in mind, let's take a look at what Jenkins brings to the table.




  • Speed Rush: Jenkins shoots off the line like a cannon shot, and he has the quick burst scouts look for in an edge rusher. 
  • Agility: Jenkins has quick feet and changes direction well. He may not have the most impressive 40-yard dash time of all the 3-4 outside linebacker prospects this upcoming April, but he can get around the corner with the best of them, thanks to some flexible hips and excellent balance.
  • Bull Rush: Jenkins will need to continue bulking up to compete with the elite offensive linemen in the NFL, but he already possesses a solid bull rush. 
  • High Motor: Jenkins will always give his best on every single play. He is a relentless worker, which is an invaluable trait in pass-rushers. 
  • Not a One-Trick Pony: Jenkins already possesses a fine repertoire of moves as a pass-rusher. He can be devastating on the outside, using a dip-and-rip move that many tackles can't defend, and he has an excellent spin move to beat them inside.
  • Double Teams: Throughout his career at Florida State, Jenkins has been consistently double teamed, and he has the strength to absorb the attention and balance to stay on his feet.
  • Size: At 6' 3" and 260 pounds, Jenkins has the ideal size for a 3-4 outside linebacker.
  • Production: Jenkins tallied 33.5 tackles for a loss and 21.5 sacks in two years as a sophomore and junior, and he'd already logged one sack in his first game of 2012. He's been a consistent player throughout his time at FSU.




  • Run Defense: One of the biggest weaknesses to Jenkins' game is that he struggles to disengage from his blockers on running plays. He tends to focus too much on getting to the quarterback and can get overpowered by mauling linemen.
  • Tackling: Jenkins tends to get swallowed up by bigger linemen on running plays, as we've already alluded to, and he struggles to make tackles as a result. He needs to continue getting stronger and work on his tackling technique.
  • Leverage: From what I saw on tape, Jenkins tends to pop up a bit too fast and plays without proper leverage at times. Again, this is mostly something I saw as a negative on running plays, though he did also show this flaw in pass-rushing situations.
  • Coverage: At this time, Jenkins isn't adept at dropping back into coverage. He reminds me a bit of Aldon Smith in this regard, as he looks unsure of what to do in those situations. 
  • Diagnosing Plays: Jenkins can get lost sometimes, especially on screen passes or draws. He'll need to spend plenty of time in the film room to get better at diagnosing plays.




Jenkins isn't a complete 3-4 outside linebacker at this time, but neither were Clay Matthews, Aldon Smith, Brian Orakpo and just about any other young pass-rusher coming out of college. 

He is an exceptionally gifted speed rusher with the physical tools to become a well-rounded, physical player on the outside for any team running a 3-4 defense. 

Given the recent struggles the Pittsburgh Steelers have had at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and given the fact that their 3-4 outside linebackers are primarily pass-rushers, he'd be a perfect fit for Dick Lebeau's defense.

As long as Jenkins isn't asked to do too much too soon, he'll be an amazing player right out of the gates in his rookie season, and I expect him to be the biggest surprise of the 2013 NFL Draft. 


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