With the 23rd pick of Pride of Detroit's 2012 NFL mock draft, the Detroit Lions select North Alabama (and one-time Florida) cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Jerry Mallory is serving as the Lions' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
As you all know, our draft strategy has been a mixture of BPA and top player at a given position. In Jenkins we not only get the BPA, but arguably the best corner in man coverage in the draft, AND we fill a huge need. If the last game against Green Bay and the playoff game against New Orleans showed us anything, it was that we have big issues with our secondary. Our defensive line is often able to mask those problems. But our front four was not as consistent in 2011 as it was in 2010. We want to gain more balance where we are not depending on one aspect of our defense being top notch to avoid giving up upwards of 35 points in a game.
If it was not for Jenkins off the field issues he would not have had a chance of being available at 23. In our estimation, he is a better player than Dre Kirkpatrick and can rival Morris Claiborne. We watched his game film over and over, including up-close looks at the Senior Bowl and combine, and he has few flaws in his skill set. He has speed, enough size to battle big receivers and superb coverage skills. You know those games against teams like Green Bay where Aaron Rodgers passes the ball down the field to an open receiver? That won't happen wherever Jenkins is lined up.
We were hoping Jenkins was going to enter the draft last year, and we would have considered him at 13, or if he had entered the supplemental draft, we were prepared to offer a hefty package. We are glad he fell to us today. After Jonathan Martin and Whitney Mercilus got picked before us, the choice was a no-brainer. Peter Konz was the only contender at this point as he fills a big need (run-blocking center of the future, starting RG instantly), but Jenkins' talent level got him the nod. Mike Adams and Nick Perry have talent, but we feel like we can get close to their quality in round two (especially at tackle).
Now on to Jenkins' off the field issues. The paternity concerns are not too worrisome for us. Granted, it shows poor decision making, but this does not make him different from many of the young guys being drafted. If any team should have concerns about marijuana use it's us. And we looked at this long and hard. Extensive interviews with him and consultation with people who know him are just a few of the battery of tests we did on him. Obviously we are comfortable enough with the progress he's made since leaving Florida and the progress we see him continually making to the point where we are cautious but secure in his behavioral improvements.
We can't help but think of a player who fell many years ago, not because of talent but behavior. He also had to switch schools and by many accounts made strides in improving as a person. He went on to torch the Lions and many other teams for years to come. That's Randy Moss. Sometimes after you've done your homework on someone's character you have to take a bit of a risk in hopes of landing a superb talent. We as an organization have made vast improvements over the last few years to where we now have that luxury.
(Note: DrewsLions was unable to serve as the general manager of the Lions this year, so Jerry stepped in to take his spot.)
Check out the 2012 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.