*4.39 40 yd dash
*Surprise 1st round pick
The 49ers made one of the first wow picks of the draft selecting WR A.J. Jenkins 30th overall. While it came as a surprise to most all of us the 9ers were apparently pretty high on him. So what did Harbaugh and company see that the rest of us didn’t? Let’s take a look.
First of all Jenkins is an explosive player with elite speed. Clocking in at 4.39 in the 40 at the combine is no joke. If he beats a corner off the line he’s making a big play. Jenkins is good at adjusting to the ball and moving his body while in stride. He has good hands and can go over the middle. His real value, though, is his speed. A.J. gets up to maximum velocity very quickly and will be able to beat corners at the next level. He has good size at 6’0” 192 and can go up and get the ball well. Jenkins is great at grabbing the ball out in space and rarely uses his body to catch.
Now obviously the guy has some negatives or we would’ve all been expecting him to go in the first round. Jenkins has decent enough size but is fairly slight of build. He can get jammed at the line of scrimmage and that is the perfect way to neutralize him. He needs to improve on that or he won’t be able to compete with some of the more physical corners in the NFL. Another area where Jenkins needs to improve is effort. At times it appears he doesn’t give 100% and in the NFL you won’t survive with that attitude.
All in all I like Jenkins as a prospect at the next level. He is my 8th ranked rookie WR and 17th overall on my board. Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers did a great job in the draft last year and if they like this guy enough to take him where they did that says something. His upside may be limited in the short term by QB play but whenever Alex Smith either takes the leap or moves on Jenkins can be a truly dynamic playmaker. Many think that the presense of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham will kill his short-term value as well. I just don’t see it. Moss is done as a solid starter in this league and Manningham has never really impressed. I think the opportunity in San Fran is greater than it looks on the surface and since they took Jenkins in the first round I think the team agrees.
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