When a guy loses forty pounds to get down to 328 pounds, you know that is one big son of a gun. That's exactly what Saints defensive tackle John Jenkins did this offseason in preparation to step into a starting role for the now departed Broderick Bunkley. I think that move will end up paying huge dividends for for him and his team.
Jenkins already had a lot of potential because he has a rare combination of size, strength and quickness that you don't often see, even in the NFL. Unfortunately, injuries have curtailed his production. Last year, he had to have surgery on his pectoral muscle which hampered him most of the offseason and slowed him down early in the year. Later in the season, when it appeared he was just coming into his own having started for for weeks straight from Week 13 to Week 16, the Saints ended up placing him on IR for the last game of the season with an injury to his abdominal muscle.
Yeah, a 350-pound guy with an ab injury, the jokes write themselves.
Only it's not really funny when guys eat themselves out of the league. My old defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli, used to watch guys who were obviously overweight on film and say they were "killing themselves with a fork." I started to get that impression about Jenkins, so it was good to see him drop that weight and get down to a size where he could move a lot better.
Now a smaller, but still pretty damn big, Jenkins is primed to have a big year for that Saints defense. They need him to if they want to have any chance of winning the division this year. The Saints defense was pretty fucking awful last season, and while Bunkley wasn't really the reason for it, a disruptive Jenkins could go a long way towards helping them turn that unit around.
Don't be surprised to see him end up with around five or more sacks either. Like I said, that kid's big but he can move. At the same time, he should do a great job of holding the point and keeping interior offensive linemen off of his linebackers. If Jenkins can keep his weight down, he can be a truly special player inside.
I would expect all of his numbers to make a big jump in a positive direction, but his pass rush ability is probably going to shock a lot of opponents. After his first two years were decent I'd expect his third year to be outstanding, provided he stays healthy.