Outside of Morris Claiborne, Janoris Jenkins may be the most talented defensive back in this year’s draft. Unfortunately Janoris Jenkins is also possibly the biggest question mark in the entire draft in terms of character. What has Janoris Jenkins done to deserve all those red flags? For starters, despite being only 23, he has already fathered four kids with three different women. He was also tossed out of the University of Florida after being arrested on two drug-related offenses in a three month span. Florida has a great history of looking the other way when it comes its players’ transgressions, so if a guy actually gets thrown out of there, you know he must have issues.
The latest red flag for Jenkins may seem minor compared to rampant out-of-wedlock procreation, drug arrest and expulsion from a major university known to have a high tolerance for misbehavior, but it does nonetheless add to the ever-growing mountain of evidence against him. At first the story seemed like a blip. It was reported that Jenkins had parted ways with his agent Ben Dogra of CAA. Not a big deal, agent switches happen all the time. But then Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel reported that Jenkins was actually fired by his agent, as opposed to Jenkins doing the firing. That sort of thing does not happen all the time, leading Bianchi to tweet “You’ve got to be pretty shady for agent to fire player.”
We don’t know the whole story of why Jenkins was dropped by Dogra (he has since been picked up by Malik Shareef who also reps Victor Cruz) but teams will certainly look into it. It could be Dogra found out something new about Jenkins that has yet to be made public (more baby mamas?), or it could be there was a personal issue between the two. Either way, this story doesn’t look good for Jenkins. His draft stock was already trending downward to begin with, and now it’s in danger of taking a Vontaze Burfict-like nosedive.
So how should the Vikings look at this? If things get much worse for Jenkins, the Vikes won’t have any decision to make about him whatsoever, cause he’ll be off their draft board (and everyone else’s). As things stand now though, Jenkins is still considered a second round prospect (he would be high first round if not for the drama). All things being equal, the Vikings would be delighted to snap up a player of Jenkins’ abilities with the 35th overall pick. But like every other team, the Vikings must be sensitive to Jenkins’ personal history, which now includes this agent thing. The Vikings may in fact be more sensitive to Jenkins’ baggage that other teams given last year’s whole mess with Chris Cook and the slight PR hit they have taken by retaining him after he was charged with domestic assault (he was cleared of those charges but this doesn’t matter in the eyes of some).
The thought of Janoris Jenkins and Chris Cook lining up at the two outside cornerback positions with Antoine Winfield inside is an enticing one from a pure football perspective. And it can be made real IF the Vikings are willing to take a huge chance on a guy who by all indications is a massive turd. Once in awhile you just have to take that kind of risk, and if I were the Vikings I would seriously consider it. By this point, they appear to have covered themselves decently with secondary talent, having signed Zack Bowman and Chris Carr to free agent contracts. Were I in a speculative sort of mood, I might even posit that Bowman and Carr were added specifically to set the stage for a dice-roll on Jenkins. But I’m not, so I won’t make that assertion.
I will say that Jenkins’ talent is undeniable and as a fan I would get a tingle of excitement at the thought of him being added to our secondary. My guess is that the Vikings will look hard at Jenkins before making up their mind. If they pass, I’ll understand. If they take him, I’ll be ready to roll with it until at least baby mama #10.