Dre Kirkpatrick or Janoris Jenkins: Who fits better with the Dallas Cowboys?


Dre Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jenkins’ performance at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine is being reviewed by Dallas Cowboys Owner and GM Jerry Jones and Head Coach Jason Garrett as they will begin making adjustments to the Draft Board. They, along with the Scouting Department, will continue to modify their Board up until April 26th, based on things like each player’s Pro Day, the annual Dallas Day for potential draft picks, and what they anticipate from the other team’s draft strategies.

Several performances at the Combine affected what will happen in the 13 selections before the Cowboys use their 1st Round pick. A few players, like Dontari Poe, have jumped up into the Top 15 in most mock drafts. Others, like Courtney Upshaw, have fallen out of the Top 15.

I have argued previously that the Cowbyos should not draft David DeCastro, and that they should take a DT if there is one capable of being a 3-4 NT still available. In the event that there is no suitable NT still on the board or Jerry Jones just continues to ignore my sagacious advice, it seems likely that the Cowboys braintrust will be looking for an impact player at CB. DE, or OLB. Of course, what they do in free agency will affect the relative importance of each need . If they sign Brandon Carr or an effective pass-rusher, that would eliminate the urgency of one of the huge needs.

Many prognosticators have the Cowboys taking a CB with the 14th pick. Every mock draft has Morris Claiborne being picked in the Top 10. Most mocks project that both Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama and Janoris Jenkins of North Alabama will be available when the Cowboys get on the clock. The debate about which of the two CB’s the Cowboys should draft is starting to pick up.

The writers at The Landry Hat addressed, in a cursory fashion, a similar question before the Combine. You can read their answers here – six of them chose Kirkpatrick, one selected Jenkins, and one wanted to draft Alfonzo Dennard from Nebraska.

The Combine results for Dre Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jenkins:

Dre Kirkpatrick. Born: October 26, 1989. Height: 6-2. Weight: 186.
40 Time: 4.51 10
Vertical: 35 inches. Broadjump: 120 inches.
Arm: 30 5/8 inches. Hands:9.5 inches

Final Combine Grade from NFL.com: 92

Janoris Jenkins. Born: October 29, 1988. Height: 5-10. Weight: 193.
40 Time: 4.46 seconds. 3-Cone: 6.95. 20 yard shuffle:4.13. 60 Yd. Shuffle:11.23
Vertical: 33.5. Broad: 121 inches
Arm: 32 inches. Hand: 8 ¼ inches.

Final Combine Grade from NFL.com: 91.5

The one thing that stands out to me from the Combine, other than their respective heights, is that Dre has short arms for someone of his stature.

When you start to look at the big picture and think about which player is better suited to the Dallas Cowboys organisation, then the follow random facts have to be considered.  I organised them into facts that favour each player:

Facts that Favour Dre Kirkpatrick

– Dre played for Nick Saban who has a history of coaching defensive players who succeeded in the NFL.

– When you add their height differences to the respective vertical jumps, Dre can get 5.5 inches higher. That is a significant advantage when matched up against the 6’5” WR’s in today’s NFL, particularly in the endzone.

– Dre is a more physical CB, a better tackler, and has caused more fumbles. That being said, Dre is only 186 pounds, so he will have to add some weight and muscle if he expects to play the same physical brand of football in the NFL.

– Many believe Kirkpatrick to be the best tackling CB in the Draft.

– Dre was so effective in college that many QB’s were reluctant to even test him.

– Jenkins has fathered four children already (three different mothers). 

– Although many claim that Jenkins has turned over a new leaf since being humbled by his banishment from Florida, his problems with the law were much worse than Kirkpatrick. Dre was allegedly around some marijuana. A college student experimenting with a recreational and non-performance enhancing drug seems relatively easy to overlook when compared with Janoris’ public fighting and resisting arrest incident. In addition to the off the field problems, Jenkins is known as a bit of a hot-head on the field who often takes knuckle-head penalties as a result.

– Dre has the attitude needed to be an elite NFL CB; his teammates nick-named him “swag”.

– With the growing popularity of pass-catching TE’s and the corresponding need to have big corners (or safeties with CB coverage skills), Dre is much better suited to this role than Jenkins.

– Jenkins’ intelligence, both on and off the field, have been questioned.

– Dre is proficient enough in man-coverage that he should be able to improve enough with his technique to be effective in single-coverage in the NFL.

Facts that Favour Jenkins

– Some scouts project that Kirkpatrick, lacking the fluidity and footwork Janoris possesses, is not as ready to play man coverage in the NFL.

– Jenkins had an outstanding performance at the Senior Bowl against some of the best young players in the nation. It was this performance that started the talk about him sliding back in to the Top 15 Prospects after his multiple run-ins with the law had dropped him out of that discussion.

– Jenkins, despite his size, plays physically in run support; he was capable of jamming and re-routing receivers at the line in college.

– Jenkins has had success against taller WR’s. For example, A. J. Green who is 6’4” (selected 4th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2011 NFL Draft) and made the Pro Bowl for the AFC, played against Jenkins three times and did not ever gain over a 100 yards.

– In his junior year at Florida, Jenkins covered Georgia’s A.J. Green, Alabama’s Julio Jones and South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery; he limited them to an average of 4.7 catches per game for a paltry 38 yards, giving up just one touchdown.

– Jenkins is described by many scouts as a “natural corner” or “classic cover corner”.

– In addition to being fast, Jenkins is quick, he changes direction easily and effortlessly, and he is described as “fluid” and “flexible”. He can flip his hips and maintain his speed when running in man coverage.

– The only major weaknesses that Jenkins has are his size and his history of problems with the law.

– Jenkins does some things that Kirkpatrick can’t. He is an amazingly talented punt returner. As a Senior (albeit against lesser competition than he would have faced as a Gator) Jenkins returned 18 punts for 390 yards (over 21 yards per return) with three touchdown returns.

– Jenkins was a starter as a true freshman in 2008 when the Gators won the National Championship.

– Jenkins is better at covering WR’s with elite speed.

– Jenkins is often described as “highly competitive and extremely confident”.

– Dre’s lack of fluidity and efficient footwork when he is locked in man-to-man coverage means that he is vulnerable to double-moves (NFL receivers will not run near as man simple fly, post, and corner routes). To be fair to Dre, if there is any issue on which the scouting reports disagree in evaluating him, it is with his fluidity and ability to turn is hips in man coverage.

– Many observers have theorized that Kirkpatrick got by in college on raw talent and athleticism. His technique will need to be improved if he is to be successful in the NFL. In comparison, Jenkins appears that he may be NFL-ready.

– Jenkins, in addition to having good speed, is said to have a “great first burst” and to be “quick”.

– Jenkins looks to have better ball skills and reaction skills when the ball is in the air, and he has better hands. Jenkins, despite his tarnished history, does have supporters. 

Click here for a very understanding examination of Jenkins’ path to the Draft.

Facts that favour Neither Player

– Many are predicting that Dre’s frame and style of play may make his more suitable to be a safety in the NFL. He excels in zone coverage, and he is a willing and effective tackler in run support.

– While Jenkins is better in pure man coverage, Kirkpatrick is better in press coverage.

– Dre has a bit of a reputation for gambling too often and getting beat for a big play, but so does Jenkins. 

Making a Decision

In teams of pure football ability and performance on the field, it is hard to argue against Jenkins being the safer pick.  His ability to score TD’s as a PR also adds a lot of value to his draft stock.  The problem is that it is doubtful that Jenkins is big enough to be what the Cowboys secondary needs the most: a CB who can handle big, physical receivers like Brandon Marshall, Calvin Jonhson, A. J. Green, Julio Jones, and Vincent Jackson. Leaving aside the whole issue of free agency, the Cowboys opinion on J. Jenkins probably has a lot to do with their long term plans for Mike Jenkins.  If they foresee giving M. Jenkins a new contract when his current one expires after this season, they may be less likely to need someone with Jenkins size and skill set.  If they do not want Jenkins around in the future, they will definitely need a CB like Jenkins.  If they plan to keep Jenkins, then there is more of a need for someone with the size and skills of Kirkpatrick.  If they believe that Jenkins is an adequate No.1 CB, then they need someone like Kirkpatrick who can cover the Goliath-like WR’s who seem to get bigger and bigger every year. 

All that aside, the determining factor is probably the fact that Jenkins is not exactly what anyone believes to be Garrett’s “Right Kind of Guy”.  It is not like this kid has made one or two bad choices; he appears to be a recidivist.

In all honesty to Jenkins, his life will probably be much easier in another city that is not the media circus that Dallas is.  I doubt that Garrett is ready to take on another “project” given that Dez Bryant is not exactly a finished product yet. 

It seems that if the Cowboys really want a CB in the 1st Round, Kirkpatrick almost wins by default.  The good news for Cowboy fans is that at 6’2” and just 22 years of age, Kirkpatrick will be able to contribute immediately, especially in zone coverage, but he has the potential to be a tall physical CB who can handle the giant WR’s in today’s NFL.  CB’s with that ability are extremely rare: like an elite 3-4 NT, there are only a handful of them even playing in the NFL.

What do you guys think?  Would you take Kirkpatrick, Jenkins, or a different CB?