CB prospect Janoris Jenkins' personal life still causes concerns with NFL teams

WELLINGTON, Fla. – Once a week, cornerback Janoris Jenkins stands in the bathroom of U.S. Army sergeant Sandy Cornelio's two-bedroom apartment and urinates into a cup with a door open as Cornelio makes sure "no funny business" happens. Jenkins then hands over the sample for Cornelio to test for drugs.

This is the deal Jenkins, the biggest question mark of this week's NFL draft, agreed to approximately a year ago just to stay here with Cornelio, his wife, Diana, and their two children. He chose to accept these conditions by Cornelio, a recruiter he's known since high school, rather than live in his hometown of Pahokee, roughly 30 miles down Highway 98.

"This is just a lot better for me," said Jenkins, a cornerback prospect from the University of North Alabama who is trying to escape the desperation that defines Pahokee.

He's going to get that chance.

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Of 18 NFL personnel men (coaches, scouts and executives) surveyed, eight said that Jenkins is the most talented cornerback in the draft. If not for numerous off-field issues, Jenkins would probably be a top-10 pick, coming right before or just after LSU's Morris Claiborne.

"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," said an executive whose team has one of the top 15 picks. "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."

The NFL has seen its share of guys who could have been somebody. Even among guys who made a certain effort to straighten out their lives, plenty have fallen off the map. From Barret Robbins to Cecil Collins, the NFL is littered with sad stories.

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Jenkins, like so many others, is trying to create a happy ending. In addition to the weekly tests Jenkins must take, Cornelio, 30, threw in six more random screenings while Jenkins was at North Alabama. That's where Jenkins ended up after being dismissed by the University of Florida last April after two marijuana arrests in a three-month period. Additionally, he was randomly tested by North Alabama officials as part of a "zero-tolerance" contract. That pact was signed by Jenkins, athletic director Mark Linder and then-coach Terry Bowden.

"I can't say I was with the kid 24 hours a day," said North Alabama defensive coordinator Chris Willis, Jenkins' position coach last season. "But from the time he got here, it was all about, 'What do I have to do here?' Go to class, show up for practice, put in the work, play in the games. … He did everything we asked and when he was done, he went back to his apartment and he'd be on the PlayStation. He didn't even have a car up here because his dad didn't want him to go anywhere."

Jenkins still doesn't have a car. Rich DeLuca, Jenkins' financial adviser and a former long-time agent, said Jenkins recently got a line of credit and used it to get his child-support payments completely up-to-date, not simply spend at will.

By all accounts, Jenkins seemed like a relatively normal 23-year-old man as he talked and watched ESPN's Jon Gruden grill quarterback prospects such as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. Yet the hits on Jenkins' character keep coming. An NFL.com report surfaced nearly two weeks ago that Jenkins told three different teams that he kept smoking marijuana while at North Alabama. During a two-hour interview Saturday, Jenkins denied that claim and said he quit smoking the drug after his second marijuana-related offense.

Likewise, Willis said he was "very, very surprised to read" the report.

"Again, I wasn't with him every hour, but that didn't seem like what he was doing," Willis said.

Jenkins, a third-team All-America for Florida in 2010, also made news in March when he fired high-profile agent Ben Dogra of Creative Artists Agency, a firm that almost never loses clients and certainly not before the draft. Shortly after the news broke, sources indicated that CAA had actually fired Jenkins.

Either way, the move ultimately reflected poorly on Jenkins.

In February, Jenkins created a buzz when he admitted to already having four children with three women. In addition, there is potentially a fifth child with a fourth woman who has filed paperwork claiming Jenkins is the father. He denies that. At the same time, he points out that having kids is not a crime.

"What's wrong with wanting to have kids?" said Jenkins, who is two classes short of getting his degree in sociology and plans to return to Florida so he can become the first person in his family with a college degree.

The issue, at least from the perspective of some personnel men, is the potential financial demands and emotional toll. Just ask New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who's on the verge of his 11th and 12th children (by eight women), or former NFL running back Travis Henry, who started an ill-fated career as a drug dealer to pay for his 11 kids (with 10 women).

"His mom, his dad and I talk to him all the time about having so many kids already," Cornelio said. "Right now, he thinks it's all OK, that he's going to have it all under control. But he hasn't signed a contract yet. As soon as he does, we keep telling him that's when all these women are going to come looking for money."

That point was hammered home by an NFL team executive.

"Jenkins isn't the first guy or the last guy to have a bunch of kids and women in his life," the executive said. "We [the teams] all deal with it. But players don't understand the stress they put themselves under when they do this. The money is the obvious thing, but that's not it alone. You have the women calling you or calling each other. The women are screaming at each other, which means they're screaming at you, too. Or they're scheming against you to get more money. Screaming and scheming, screaming and scheming.

"You have lawyers and paternity tests and more lawyers and paperwork and God forbid you're not up to date on the [child-support] payments and the team has to advance you some money. Now you have the team involved, worried about you making payments so that you stay out of jail."

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The executive then laughed sarcastically when asked about Cromartie and the San Diego Chargers, who traded him to the Jets in 2010. One of the conditions of Cromartie's trade was that New York had to advance him money to pay off his child support.

Atlanta-based lawyer Randy Kessler noted recently when calculating that each child not raised by an athlete can cost upwards of $1.08 million.

"That's $5,000 a month times 12 months a year times 18 years," Kessler said, using the support figure that's typical in states such as Georgia and Florida. In California, support payments can easily get to $15,000 a month. That means more than $3 million.

That doesn't include attorney's fees in case the situation gets messy.

"Now you're talking potentially $1.4 or $1.5 million a kid," said Kessler, who represents athletes and the mothers of their children. "One of the big problems that athletes have when they're done is that they don't go and get adjustments in what they owe now that they're no longer playing and making the same kind of money."

Jenkins listens to the point and disagrees.

"The women I've been with, they're not going to be like that," he said.

This is how Jenkins answers a lot of questions: quickly and without a lot of details. Part of the reason is that he's tired of the same questions over and over again. He visited with the Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams and Philadelphia Eagles recently and was asked constantly about what he's doing to change.

Of course, the testing he has submitted to, the relationship he has developed with Cornelio and his decisions to return to college rather than go into the supplemental draft last year are indications that Jenkins is capable of coming up with answers.

"The marijuana was just a college thing. I was being a college student and I wasn't the only athlete who was smoking," said Jenkins, who was arrested by the same policeman in the marijuana incidents. "As soon as I got the second arrest, I quit. I knew this could affect my future."

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Jenkins believes the NFL.com report was an effort by teams to drive down his value in the draft. Fair enough, but Jenkins also admits that he didn't stop smoking after the first arrest. When asked why not, he simply shrugs his shoulders.

"I was being a college student," he said.

At the same time, Jenkins never lost his cool after one argumentative question after another. At one point, he asked in a very straightforward way, "What about all the positive things I've done, like the community service at North Alabama?" Jenkins pointed out that he served as a Big Brother and helped serve meals to needy fellow students.

He's finding out the hard way that teams are much more concerned with the red-flag behavior. What teams worry about is whether somebody so talented will live up to his billing.

Or whether he'll be a waste of time?

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