Player Profile: Saints’ Third Rounder, John Jenkins

John Jenkins

“The New Orleans Saints have traded draft picks with the Miami Dolphins.

With the 20th pick of the third round in the 2013 draft, the New Orleans Saints select…

John Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, Georgia.”


-After gaining an extra fourth round pick for trading away RB Chris Ivory, the Saints used both of their fourth rounders to trade back into the third round, moving up to take the nose tackle out of Georgia, John Jenkins. Jenkins was projected to go much earlier in the draft, but character and weight concerns created a draft-day slide. Despite his talent, it’s still somewhat surprising the Saints pulled some strings to get him. The team figured to take a conservative approach in the draft by targeting players with high character and quality leadership abilities in order to clean up the bounty reputation and appease Roger Goodell.


-John Jenkins (6’3, 346) is a mammoth of a man with a large lower body and broad shoulders. He attended Gulf Coast Community College before transferring to UGA his junior year. That year, started the second half the season for the Bulldogs, and by his senior year, he was a full-time starter. In the few Bulldog games I watched this season, Jenkins had a noticeable presence when he was on the field, mainly because of his massive size. He helped clog running lanes on early downs in UGA’s 3-4 hybrid, but he was often substituted a lot. I figured this was because of his heavy weight/low stamina combination.

Here’s what I noticed after watching film cutups:


  • Great size for NFL nose tackle, large frame
  • Moves fast for his size, carries his weight well
  • Surprisingly quick first step
  • Commands double teams with a good push off the LOS


  • Awareness isn’t there, takes a while to locate the ball
  • Didn’t show any pass rush moves (1 sack in 2012)
  • Doesn’t use his hands well to shed blockers
  • Character concerns, suspended because of academic issues
  • Takes plays off, especially in the fourth quarter (motivation and stamina are weak).

-Jenkins is a great athlete for his size. The guy is enormous, but when you watch him, it seems like he moves as fast as a traditional 300-pound DT (not a 340+ whale). He has quick feet for a guy carrying so much weight, and he is very strong at the point of attack. He doesn’t provide much at all in the passing game, but he was a great run stuffer in college. He’s at his best in a rotation when he can play only 50% of the snaps in a game, because he lacks conditioning and seemed to wear down physically as the games went on. However, he’s one of the only true nose tackles the 2013 draft class had to offer, and if it weren’t for character concerns, he likely would have been a mid-second round pick.


-The Saints had a great need for a pure nose tackle. After switching to a 3-4 front this offseason, we were left to speculate whether DTs Akiem Hicks or Broderick Bunkley could man the 0-technique. Having a strong nose tackle that can penetrate quickly and command double teams is the most important element of the 3-4 defense. The Saints are likely to start Akiem Hicks and Cam Jordan at defensive end. This leaves Broderick Bunkley, whose skill-set and size aren’t really suited for a 3-4 DE, as our starting nose tackle. Bunkley is an outstanding run defender. But without much experience in the 3-4, he remains somewhat of a question mark. Also, it’s important to note with Bunkley that he typically only plays about 55% of snaps. He’s very effective when he’s in the game. In fact, he’s been one of the best run-stuffers in the NFL for the past two seasons. But he’s only actually in the game half the time. This makes drafting Jenkins brilliant, as now Bunkley will have a quality reserve to spell him, making each player more rested and effective when on the field. Plus, it’s great that Jenkins has experience lining up at NT in a 3-4, as UGA ran a 4-3, 3-4 hybrid last season.


-Jenkins is much more dominant when he is isn’t relied on for the majority of snaps. He often took plays off and was substituted out constantly at UGA because of his conditioning. Bunkley and Jenkins can split time at NT, making each much more useful on a per-snap basis. The Saints have a lot of players to rotate on the D-line next season. At DE, Cam Jordan and Akiem Hicks should start; Will Smith and Kenyon Coleman are quality reserves. At NT, Bunkley will likely start, but Jenkins should get playing time off the bench, and Akiem Hicks has the size and ability to step in if necessary. The Saints suddenly have a deep rotation on the line, just as Rob Ryan would want.


-This was my favorite pick of the Saints’ draft. It’s easy to understand why it makes sense from a needs standpoint. Jenkins is also a talented player that has shown a lot of ability when he’s on the field. Most of his character concerns were due to his low grades in school, which he won’t have to worry about anymore, and his stamina, which can be negated by Broderick Bunkley and Akiem Hicks’ presence. Although he has capped potential because of his lack of pass-rushing skills, he can be a strong and massive 2-down run plugger that can help make our transition to the 3-4 defense more smooth.


*Photo Credit: Kevin Cox –

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