The San Francisco 49ers have finally announced a four-year contract with first-round draft choice A.J. Jenkins. Jenkins, who was also recruited by Florida, Florida State, Miami and South Carolina, was one of the more heralded recruits brought to Illinois by Ron Zook. He saw immediate action in 2008 as a true freshman, playing in all 12 games, including one start (11-287-3). He started three games in 2009 as a sophomore, but saw his production drop a bit (10-123-1), missing two games with a knee injury.
Jenkins started nine games in 2010 and finished as the team’s leading receiver (56-749-7). However, he really emerged in 2011 as a senior, posting team-highs in every receiving category, including a Big Ten-best 84 receptions for 1,196 yards and 7 TDs. Jenkins isn’t a burner or consistent vertical threat, but he plays fast and with a degree of confidence. He is more quick than fast and covers a lot of ground in the short half of the field and is slippery after the catch. He has a lanky frame and will be overmatched physically by most cornerbacks in the NFL, but should be a solid underneath option.
Jenkins doesn’t appear to have the strength or natural speed to hold up on the outside as a pro, but could develop into a solid No. 3 or 4 for a team if he becomes more disciplined as a route-runner and devotes himself to the game of football.
That leaves the St. Louis Rams’ Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, both cornerbacks, as the only 2012 draft choices from NFC West teams without announced agreements.
The St Louis Rams’ decision to trade down from the second and sixth overall choices lowered the stakes for negotiations. Some higher choices remain unsigned while agents and teams haggle over guarantees.
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