Well, it certainly was...interesting to say the least. I don't think anybody, not even A.J. Jenkins' mother, thought that he would become a first round pick. Now, that doesn't mean he's a reach just because the draft "experts" didn't predict it or advocate it. Let's remember, it's the NFL GM's who get paid millions each year with the only job being: find the best players to draft for our team.
The interesting thing is how calm the 49ers' war-room appeared throughout the entire first round. I expected them to call about a potential trade-up earlier when David DeCastro lasted so long. Then I expected some calls about trading down with guys like Cordy Glenn, Janoris Jenkins, etc. still available.
Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh just sat back in their chairs relaxed the entire time. This from Matt Maiocco might explain why:
Jim Harbaugh: GM Trent Baalke wrote "AJ Jenkins" and put it in envelope last night. He was guy 49ers targeted in that spot.
The scouting on Jenkins reads like he's got a lot of ability. He's fast, runs good vertical routes, has savvy and concentration to his game that is often uncommon for college wide receivers. The only real knocks on him are that he's thin-framed, not real physical, and hasn't proven he can beat press-coverage thus-far.
Granted he'll need to learn these skills and bulk-up some in the NFL...but let's be honest. The 49ers needed deep threats to both take pressure off of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter in the run game, and ALSO to force defenses to cover someone other than Vernon Davis.
Ted Ginn wasn't that guy. Sure he got open, but he couldn't come down with many of the catches that came his way. Jenkins on the other hand has excellent hands. He is a natural plucker of the football meaning that he hand-catches the ball away from his body. He has fast, active hands that snatch the ball from the air.
He's also adept at finding holes in zone coverage. He seems to always find a way to get between the Cover-2 CB and safety, or find which safety is biting the inside seam or slant route, and run the sideline deep for six.
Here are some of the accolades that Jenkins earned while at Illinois:
- Biletnikoff Award Semifinalist
- First-Team All-Big Ten (coaches / media)
- First-Team All-Big Ten (Phil Steele)
- CFPA National Wide Receiver of the Week (10/10)
- Big Ten co-Offensive Player of the Week (10/3)
- CFPA National Wide Receiver of the Week (10/3)
Here are Jenkins stats from his senior year as well. You can see he was very productive with a high YPC as well.
All in all I think we need to give this kid a chance. If Trent Baalke was convinced that Jenkins was worth the 30th overall pick, then he was worth the 30th overall pick. He seems like a very humble kid who will come in and learn, work hard, and might surprise everyone.