NFL Draft 2013: Jelani Jenkins leaves Florida to enter

Al Messerschmidt

Florida outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins will forgo his senior season and enter the 2013 NFL Draft, according to reports. Jenkins struggled with injuries last season, finishing with 29 tackles (five for loss), two sacks and an interception.

Florida Gators outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins will enter the 2013 NFL Draft and forgo his fifth year with the program, according to reports. Jenkins was a fixture at weakside linebacker in Gainesville for three straight seasons after redshirting as a true freshman.

Jenkins' announcement to enter the draft comes as somewhat of a surprise to Gator fans. As Andy Hutchins at the SB Nation blog Alligator Army points out, Jenkins was "good, not great" during his junior season, notching just 29 tackles (five for loss), two sacks and an interception. He was constantly hampered by injuries, missing games against Tennessee and Kentucky due to a broken thumb, and the Sugar Bowl against Louisville with a foot injury.

That said, Jenkins should be able to draw interest from NFL general managers in the second half of the draft, assuming his injury history doesn't scare them away. Jenkins was known as an excellent in-space defender with the Gators, showing good instincts in pass coverage and an ability to run sideline to sideline.

Jenkins won't strike fear into quarterbacks as a pass rusher, making him a poor fit for teams running a 3-4 scheme. He is a solid assignment football player, however, and could have a long career as an NFL starter as a result. There are plenty of 4-3 teams that could use the help at linebacker, including the New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions.

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