Jul 29, 2007
by Jim Coventry, Guest Blogger
82 receptions for 1,063 yards and 10 TDs is a very nice line to have, but unfortunately for Michael Jenkins (WR, Atl,) this is his three-year NFL total. Of course, expectations are very low for rookie WRs unless the player is a can’t miss prospect, so Jenkins was given a pass for his 7-119-0 line his first year. In his second year, he progressed to 36-508-3, which was solid progress, but not very impressive for a first-round draft choice, especially one from Ohio State University. The magical third year that sees many players break out in a big way didn’t exactly happen for Jenkins as he hauled in 39 balls, but for only 436 yds. The silver lining in his cloud was that he did score 7 TDs.
Jenkins was a sleeper pick for many in both his second and third seasons, but now he will hardly be mentioned in anyone’s fantasy draft and rightfully so. My goal is to open your eyes to the potential of the post-hype sleeper. Any player that was hyped heavily and then is quickly forgotten fits the role of this definition. I will lay out a case for Jenkins and you will decide if he is worth a flyer late in your keeper draft. Remember, before we go on, that if you use and end-game pick on such a player, your risk is low and you can always cut him if he doesn’t pan out.
Point #1: Michael Vick (QB, Atl) is unlikely to play this year and possibly ever again for the Falcons. If you’ve watched the Atlanta WRs over the past few years, you might have noticed a disturbing trend- his WRs dropped an unusually high amount of passes. It is possible that the players the Falcons brought in all made it to the professional level without being able to secure the ball, but that seems improbable. I think it’s more likely that Vick threw passes that were very difficult to catch. I have caught passes (formally and informally) from a number of QBs over the years and some of them could make all the throws, but the ball came in oddly (there was never a good description for this) and tended to ‘splat’ in one’s hands. It is possible that Vick threw many balls that were difficult to hold onto. The other issue that WRs might have had is that many of them may have never caught the reverse spin that a left-handed QB has on the passes. If you think that sounds ridiculous, Jerry Rice didn’t. When Rice knew that Steve Young was taking over full-time for Joe Montana, he practiced in the off-season with people throwing him the ball left-handed, so that he could get used to receiving the passes. Rice knew that this was going to be an adjustment for him, and if you followed Rice, you knew that he left no stone unturned to be the best at what he did. I can reasonably assume that the Falcon WRs, Jenkins included, did not spend their time off working on that part of their games.
Point #2: The Falcons will have a new QB this year (Joey Harrington as of now) and Jenkins will be the most imposing downfield target to work with. Not only does Jenkins have a 6’4”, 217 frame, he has above-average speed, and a pedigree from Ohio State. Joe Horn (WR, Atl) does not likely have much left in the tank, and he certainly will not be able to get downfield too much, but he should command respect in the short passing game along with Alge Crumpler (TE, Atl,) opening things up for Jenkins to be a factor. Roddy White (WR, Atl) does not seem to be an immediate threat to Jenkins, since White did not distinguish himself in the opportunities he has had.
Point #3: The Alge Crumpler factor. Crumpler was Vick’s safety net and primary target, mostly because Crumpler earned the QB’s trust on many occasions. Crumpler has been breaking down physically the past couple of years and is now 29-years old, he is not likely the go-to target that the new QB will be looking to first.
Point #4: Jenkins has a clean slate. Atlanta has a new coach, new QB, and a new philosophy. Coach Petrino seems to want to throw the ball downfield. Jenkins has to realize that this may be his last chance to see another big contract in his career, so he has tremendous motivation to work hard and make the most of his chances.
Whether or not you decide to make an end-game selection of Michael Jenkins, it is worth weighing out the options before your draft. It is totally understandable if you stay away from him and decide that he will be a bust. I think it makes great sense to consider him as a low-risk, high reward choice for the bottom of your roster.