Can Janoris Jenkins intercept the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award?

Al Messerschmidt

The St. Louis Rams have a budding super star in cornerback Janoris Jenkins.

Janoris Jenkins doesn't rush the quarterback. He doesn't accumulate tackles by the dozen. The St. Louis Rams rookie cornerback does have a knack for turning turnovers into points. That skill is exactly the kind of thing that could get him some notice when voters cast their ballots for the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

"There's some good players out there," head coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged, "but I think his numbers, especially the touchdown numbers from a defensive standpoint is quite impressive. So, I think he'd probably get a mention."

Nobody else in the NFL has as many interceptions returned for a touchdown as Jenkins, who has done it three times. He scored a fourth on a fumble return. He has also tied the rookie record for interceptions returned for touchdown, putting his name on the same list as Ronnie Lott and Lem Barney.

The importance of those scores can't be understated given the Rams' search for touchdowns this season. He has the second-most touchdowns of any player on the team, offense included. The Rams have just five rushing touchdowns this season.

The Florida, by way of North Alabama, product hasn't been perfect in coverage. Occasional lapses have cost the Rams dearly. Jenkins has a -11.4 score in pass coverage from Pro Football Focus. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 61.5 percent of their passes against him, and he's been scored on five times.

It's not an easy position for a rookie to adjust to in one year.

"Yeah he is, he's playing well," Fisher said. "That's what I said, the last three or four weeks he's really been playing well. It's hard to play the position just by its nature, but for him to make the plays he's making, especially over the last few weeks, implies that he's getting better."

Jenkins has not allowed a touchdown, according to the PFF charting stats, since his Week 10 benching in San Francisco. Talk about a motivating factor.

So will Jenkins' success this season turn into rookie hardware?

The last defensive back to win the DRoY award was Charles Woodson in 1998. Voters tend to prefer linebackers and defensive ends. Award or not, that Jenkins' name is in the conversation speaks highly of the team's decision to draft him, taking a risk that no other team wanted to take before the middle of the second round of the draft.

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