Vikings interview big nose tackle

John Jenkins (John David Mercer/USA Today)

One of the players the Vikings interviewed last week was nose tackle John Jenkins. He said who he met with and what he was looking to prove during Senior Bowl week.

If bigger is better, then John Jenkins is one of the best.

The Georgia nose tackle had one of the top Senior Bowl weeks among defensive linemen and appears to be a match between an area of need for the Minnesota Vikings and a value where they are picking in the first round. Not surprisingly, there was interest with the Vikings. General manager Rick Spielman, defensive line coach Brendan Daly and at least one other Vikings official interviewed Jenkins last week in Mobile, Ala.

Jenkins showed extremely well during practices last week, proving is quick enough to rush the passer with his 359-pound frame and holding up against the usual double teams.

"It's so often I can't even, I don't know, it's like second nature now. It's second nature how often I face a double team," Jenkins said after a Senior Bowl practice in which he saw plenty of them. "When I played the five-technique I was getting double-teamed. When I play the two, I'm getting double-teamed. It happens so often I don't even realize it."

The key to beating it?

"Stay low, come off the ball, be real explosive and get your hands in the right place," he said.

But if Jenkins is going to solidify a selection in the first round, he needs to convince NFL decision-makers he will be motivated over the long haul, not just when scouts from every NFL team and coaches from nearly every team are watching his effort.

He couldn't be knocked for that during last week's practices. He showed great effort throughout the drills and moved extremely well for a man of his size. But consistency of effort is one thing that he will need to prove after being uneven in that department during his career, according to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock.

Jenkins said he has heard all kinds of speculation about his draft stock.

"You hear a lot of things. If you ask me personally where I'm going to go, I really don't know, but I hear things from first round, early second, this that and the third," he said. "I don't know, it's other people's opinions based on you."

Some draft analysts have Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei projected as the top overall pick and it's possible 20 percent or more of the first-round picks could be spent on defensive tackles.

Jenkins believes he compares favorably with Lotulelei and Jesse Williams, another projected first-round nose tackle from Alabama.

"I feel I can compete. I feel I'm toe to toe with those guys," he said.

On the pro level, Jenkins believes he compares to nose tackles like Terrance Cody, the 341-pounder for the Ravens, and Kris Jenkins (late of the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers).

Either way, Jenkins provides an impressive athlete for his size. Despite tipping the scales at nearly 360 pounds – he says he can lose 30 pounds – he is able to beat offensive linemen with quickness, too, as he showed on occasion during pass-rush drills at the Senior Bowl.

"I feel like I have the ability to pass rush and that's what I'm here to prove, that I can pass rush and eliminate all the questions about me," he said.

He also doesn't seem the least bit offended by some of the dirty play that can happen in the middle of a pile.

"You have your privates being grabbed, people stepping on your ankles, twisting your ankles, man. It gets real ugly out there. Trashing talking, momma's this and grandma's that. It's all the above."

Jenkins said he was trying to take all the coaching he could last week and hoping to improve his technique with his hands and maintain one of his biggest assets – his explosiveness off the snap.

"I feel very confident. I feel I'm paying attention, studying the guys, watching the guys and being able to mentally prepare before I come out here and know what I've got to do," he said.

Being from Connecticut, Jenkins said he wasn't ever sure the NFL was a possibility, but it's nearly a foregone conclusion at this point. What's left to be decided is how early he will go and if the Vikings' interest in him extends to spending a first-round pick on him.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.


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