On day one of the 2012 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers shocked many spectators and pundits alike by drafting A.J. Jenkins, wide receiver out of Illinois with the No. 30 overall pick. Jenkins is a productive receiver and a fierce competitor, and this writer's opinion is that it's an excellent selection. Let me break "professional character" here and treat this more like a blog.
Jenkins has fantastic hands - and he keeps them very active. It's easily my favorite thing about him and, wouldn't you know it, my biggest problem with other receivers who aren't as proficient in the area. He's going to battle with defensive backs and he's going to go up for the football. If there's a badly thrown ball, you want Jenkins to be the receiver on the other end of it.
One of the biggest reasons it was such a surprise is the fact that Stephen Hill out of Georgia was still on the board. Well, the simple answer to that is to remember that sometimes draft hype is just draft hype. Hill had zero production and all of the measurables, and he had a meteoric post-combine rise from late-round guy to first-round prospect. Of course, he didn't go in the first round at all.
Jenkins, on the other hand, had plenty of production with the Fighting Illini. He caught 90 passes for 1,096 yards for Illinois last season, and his measurables aren't too far off from Hill. In short, you're losing a little bit of athleticism in going with Jenkins over Hill, but it's a minimal loss. The gain in everything else is substantial.
Now, what do expect of Jenkins in 2012? That's hard to define, really - one can assume he makes Kyle Williams expendable, though that really does depend on what goes on with Randy Moss, who is a wild card at this point. He's more of a slot guy at this point, but he's a slot guy who will be down the sidelines making the grabs that a No. 1 receiver grabs.
At any rate, he'll have plenty of opportunities to earn some playing time. That's the big thing for the 49ers - they want him to compete, and immediately. He'll be happy to do just that.