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Road to the Draft: Jelani Jenkins

By Jay Skurski

Jelani Jenkins

Position: Outside linebacker
School: Florida
Measurements: 6-foot-0, 243 pounds
225-pound bench press: 27 reps
2012 stats: 9 games played, 29 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception
Draft projection: Fourth round 

Lowdown: A five-star high school recruit who was named the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year in 2007 and 2008, Jenkins redshirted in 2009 with the Gators. He made 151 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and seven pass breakups over the next two years before suffering through an injury-plagued season in 2012. Missed two games because of a broken finger, another because of a strained hamstring and the Gators’ bowl game because of a broken foot. Chose not to run the 40 at the combine because he was still recovering from his injuries. Ran at the Gators’ Pro Day earlier this month, but was timed at a reported 4.78. That’s on the high side for an athlete like Jenkins. NFL teams will have to judge whether that’s because of his injuries. His game tape is much faster.

Jenkins’ best attribute is his coverage ability. He’s got fluid hips and can stay with running backs and tight ends. That’s a trait Bills GM Buddy Nix has mentioned as being important in looking for linebackers today. Is a good blitzer, but Jenkins is undersized and not very strong at the point of attack.

His decision to leave school a year early surprised Gators coaches and was met with criticism by fans of the team. Jenkins’ father, Maurice, is an accomplished architect in the Washington, D.C. area and his mother, Stephanie Hall, is a former basketball player for Howard University. Jenkins studied karate as a child, which Maurice said has helped with his discipline as a football player.

They said it: “He’s a great linebacker in terms of, he can learn a game in the meeting room and carry it right over to the field. I don’t know a linebacker that runs better than Jelani. I think he brings quite a bit to these teams.” – Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin.

The Buffalo News is profiling 50 prospects in 50 days leading up to next month's NFL Draft.


2013 draft | Road to the Draft
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |