With OTA’s beginning next week at Redskins’ Park, both draft picks are officially under contract and should be full participants in their first full-team workouts.
“It feels great,” Jenkins told Redskins Nation’s Larry Michael after signing his rookie contract. “I’m glad to get my foot in the door of the NFL and glad to be a Redskin.”
Jenkins suffered a Lisfranc injury on Sept. 4, 2012, that kept him out of his senior season at Florida State.
After leading the Seminoles in sacks for two seasons, being a preseason All-ACC selection and named on the watch lists for several NCAA awards, Jenkins was forced to watch his teammates from the sideline while his future hung in the balance.
Worse yet, Jenkins watched his NFL dreams dim as the projected first-round pick considered the possibility that he could go undrafted.
“You have to go through things that are hard, but are only going to make you stronger,” he said in retrospect. “I had never had a season-ending injury and this was my first one. I think that was good for me.
“It made me more of a man and made me think more. It’s not all about football; that’s big but you have to be right mentally.”
Jenkins worked diligently to return from injury and was able to participate in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine. While most teams passed on him because of the injury, the Redskins kept him rated high at the end of the draft.
“We had [Jenkins] ranked fairly high,” head coach Mike Shanahan said after the draft. “I thought last season he played extremely well.
“Would he have gone in the first round or second round if not for the injury? I don’t know, but he was impressive.”
Draft expert Mike Mayock echoed that assessment, crediting the Redskins for finding a player that can contribute immediately in certain packages.
“This is a guy that at this point in the draft is value. Heavy production in the SEC as a pass-rush specialist,” Mayock said. “When you get in the sub package, this is a guy you can move around a little bit. He can really help you.”
Jenkins was a full participant in the recent rookie mini-camp at Redskins Park. He said that while he can still feel the effects of his injury, he is still making progress to recover.
“I don’t feel 100 percent,” he said emphatically. “I want to get to the point where I don’t feel anything, but you’re always going to know that you had that injury.”
Jenkins said that the draft process is officially behind him now that he has signed and he is working hard to soak up the playbook and learn from teammates like
“I’m getting as much advice as I can from them;
Listed at 6-2, 251 pounds, Jenkins is one of the smaller linebackers on the roster, weighing an average of 15 pounds less than most edge rushers.
However, Jenkins said his success has never been about size and strength, but rather technique and quickness.
“I’m quick, kind of like a rabbit. I’m here there and everywhere, just really quick,” he said. “I’m not a speedster…I’m not the heaviest at all and never have been.
“But I can use technique and quickness to get to the quarterback.”
Despite missing his senior season, Jenkins did have success getting to the quarterback at Florida State, tallying 21.5 sacks between his sophomore and junior seasons.
Unlike most players that move around during their football careers, Jenkins has been an edge rusher—either as a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker—since he started playing in Tallahassee Pee Wee leagues.
“I’ve been playing the same position my whole life, and it’s crazy to go from Pee Wee football to high school, to college and now the NFL,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s a dream come true.”
As a late-round pick, Jenkins will have an uphill battle to make the roster, but said he embraces the challenge to prove he can play at the game’s highest level. That battle starts right away on the playing field and in the meeting room.
“That’s really the main thing is learning the playbook,” he said. “If you learn the playbook, everything will fall into place after that, and I have a lot to learn from the other guys. I can’t wait.