Janoris Jenkins probably won't last until the 23rd pick of the 2012 NFL Draft's first round Thursday. But it's a possibility, considering his checkered past that has overshadowed his dynamic athletic ability.
The former North Alabama star is one of, if not the best, cornerback prospects in this year's draft. Should he fall to late in the first round, and the Detroit Lions are on the clock, it's best that he's passed up. No sense on risking all that first-round pick money on a guy who could potentially miss games, or worse, because of a marijuana habit.
Other than Louisiana State's Morris Claiborne, Jenkins is the cream of the crop when it comes to cornerbacks; so much, that he could be a secondary's go-to player for years to come. He's that good. However, as more reports surface about his personal life, it's evident that he's a young man battling demons. I sincerely hope he overcomes his issues. There is nothing worse than wasted talent, especially when it's a talent that a small fraction of athletes possess.
But those demons could cause more and more teams to look past Jenkins and delve deeper into a plentiful and talented pool of cornerbacks. ESPN's Todd McShay said the level of talent is similar among the top players.
"I think the depth is great," McShay said. "I think you can almost get the same quality player in the third round as you can get in the second."
McShay's statement should carry a little weight. He's a great evaluator of talent. And if Player A has character issues -- even if he's a first-rounder -- there is surely a player just as good without the issues. That's not necessarily true every year, but it's true this year.
An NFL executive said he would rather take a player who has high character rather than one that is just high.
"I'm a Claiborne guy, but I'd take Jenkins in a heartbeat if Claiborne wasn't there and if Jenkins didn't have so many issues," an NFL executive who works for a team with a top-15 pick told Yahoo! Sports. "I really don't know how to assess Jenkins right now, other than I won't take him where we draft. I don't think he's evil. I don't think he's a bad kid at all. But you keep hearing one thing after another with him.
"He could be one of the best cornerbacks in the league for 10 years. I have no doubt about that. But he could be done in three years if he doesn't get his life under control, so you can't risk a really high pick on him. … If you're drafting in the 20s or 30s and his name is on the board, you have to think about him. That's a premium player at a bargain price."
Adam Biggers has followed the National Football League for over 20 years, specifically the Detroit Lions. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.
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