An NFL player's rookie year is almost a free pass. While they have to prove themselves for playing time - challenging veterans in training camp - their first year is based on raw talent. Janoris Jenkins showed flashes of why many NFL scouts thought he was the top corner back in the 2012 NFL Draft. He also had his rookie moments. In the glaring spotlight of the greatest game in the world, Jenkins had his first year glitches. It's understandable when you think about it. The then 23 year old had to get past what every rookie must: Playing on "The Big Stage". There were times he seemed to be caught watching the game, instead of covering a wily veteran receiver's double move.
Jenkins made up for most of his rookie mistakes with his speed, but only to a point. Jeff Fisher and Co. slowly convinced Jenkins to play closer in coverage. By season's end, his four touchdowns on interceptions and 73 tackles showed the NFL's media the Rams had a player to keep their eyes on. It's a good new/bad news thing, since Jenkins' performance also garnered the attention of offensive coordinators across the league. These gnome-like brainiacs who devise offensive game plans, will study his game day film with an eye to finding weaknesses. They'll also try to divine what adjustments he'll make to his play in the off season. If he bit hard on play action or double moves in 2012, he'll be working to change this aspect of his game, right? So it may make sense to have a receiver break off a double move and come back toward the line of scrimmage in a "on-the-fly" hook pattern.
Wide receivers will be studying #21 too. He has some of the best receivers in the NFL on his slate in the 2013. How about this for a daunting work load: Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Steve Smith, Anquan Bolden, T.Y. Hilton, Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Marques Colston, Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, Kenny Britt... Janoris Jenkins will need to become a student of the game if he's to overcome what's ahead of him this season. It will be interesting to hear how much time Jenkins spend in the film room at Rams Park. It's where he'll either take the next step up into being an elite NFL corner back, or fade into being just another talented also-ran.
Personally, I love watching Jenkins play. He has just enough chaos in his game to have you biting your knuckle each time a pass is thrown his way. After watching him in 2012, I can't be alone in thinking Jenkins is going to be both hero and goat more often than fans would like. He's a risk taker, and his break to the ball may be the best in the NFL. But there's also the times where he seems to "guess" what an NFL quarterback is going to do. He plays the ball, which is fun to watch. Yet, the caliber of wide receivers he'll be up against this season could make for long Sunday afternoons too.