Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 2/26/12
INDIANAPOLIS There arent many questions about Janoris Jenkins ability to make the transition from playing cornerback in college to the NFL. His natural ability and instincts make him one of the top-rated cornerbacks in this years draft. But the harder questions teams considering drafting Jenkins must ask involve behavior and issues off the field. His misdeeds and poor judgment led to him being kicked off the team at Florida after the 2010 season despite being named first-team all-conference in the SEC. Jenkins finished his college career in 2011 at North Alabama. The first round of the draft is April 26 two months away. There is a lot to consider for teams that have needs to fill, including the Lions. For pure ability, Jenkins is a legitimate first-round prospect who could be under consideration by the Lions when they draft 23rd overall on April 26. The Lions are seeking to upgrade their secondary in the draft and free-agency and could use a player of Jenkins ability. But whether the Lions, or any team, will risk a high pick on Jenkins is an open question that will not be answered until the draft. Morris Claiborne of LSU is regarded as the top cornerback prospect. Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama is another first-round prospect, but he also has a marijuana charge in his background. He was arrested on a marijuana charge in January, but the charge later was dismissed. Lions General Manager Martin Mahew said he interviewed Jenkins at the Senior Bowl. Character is an important part of the equation in the Lions draft plans. Jenkins acknowledged in his session with the media Sunday that the teams he has talked to at the NFL Scouting Combine have asked about his background. About my past, off-the-field issues, Jenkins said when asked about the interviews with teams. What happened at Florida how did I end up at North Alabama. I was honest straight forward. I admitted to everything. I take full responsibility, and I learned from everything. Jenkins was a high-school All American in Florida and was so talented that in 2008 he became only the second true freshman in SEC history to start on opening day at cornerback. Jenkins was a starter in 2008 and 09, but trouble led to his dismissal from the team in 2010. Jenkins was arrested in 2009 on a misdemeanor charge for his part in a bar fight. After the 2010 season, he was dismissed from the team for having two marijuana-related marijuana charges from January-April. He also had a flunked drug test at Florida. Jenkins also said Sunday that he has four children ages 3, 2, 1, and 3 months. Jenkins considered applying for the NFLs supplemental draft last year but enrolled at North Alabama, where he was a starter. Instead of playing against Georgia and Alabama in front of big crowds in the SEC, Jenkins played against West Alabama and West Georgia in the Gulf South Conference. North Alabama played a lot of games on Thursday nights, and Jenkins said he watched Florida on television on Saturdays and thought about how he could have been playing on the Gators defense. Man, Im supposed to be in there with those guys, is how Jenkins described his thoughts. Jenkins said he is sure of one thing: his troubles have dropped his draft stock. With two months to go before the draft, it is way to early for any GM to have firm draft plans. However, its never too early to speculate on what the Lions will do in the draft. Here is a position-by-position look at draft prospects who might fit the Lions needs either as immediate starters, for depth or development. Quarterback The position will define itself in terms of need long before the draft. There will be a roster opening if another team gives Drew Stanton an opportunity in free-agency to move up from his No. 3 status in Detroit. Matthew Stafford is entrenched as the starter. In fact, coach Jim Schwartz referred to the Lions have him through 2022 in his post-season summation. Its no secret that Shaun Hill wants to return as the backup, and that the Lions want him back in that role. But money talks in free-agency. Draft grab: If the Lions spend more than a sixth-round pick it will be a surprise. More likely, theyll sign an undrafted free agent. Take your best guess. Its as good as mine Kellen Moore of Boise, Aaron Corp of Richmond, Patrick Witt of Yale, Jordan Jefferson of LSU. Running back: The issue for the Lions is not talent but health for Jahvid Best (concussion) and Mikel Leshoure (Achilles). A key date is April 16, when veterans are allowed to report to begin offseason conditioning workouts. Drill work doesnt start until after May 1, but the Lions could have a clearer update on Bests condition by the draft. They need a healthy runner Best, Leshoure, a veteran free agent or a draft pick. Draft grab: Trent Richardson of Alabama might be the only legitimate first-round prospect. Deeper in the draft, a player like Isaiah Pead of Cincinnati is a possibility. Offensive line The Lions will be in good shape if they line up on opening day with the same five who started the playoff game in New Orleans. The groups age makes it important to start adding young legs to develop for the future. As Mayhew said, offensive linemen can play longer than players at other positions. Experience makes up for slight deterioration by age. Draft grab: Matt Kalil came to the Combine rated No. 1 at offensive tackle and held position by testing well 4.99 in the 40 and 30 reps in the bench press. Hell be long gone before the Lions draft. For whatever reason, Mike Adams of Ohio State was down the list 5.40 in the 40 and 19 reps in the bench press. Two guards performed well David DeCastro of Stanford and Cordy Glenn of Georgia. Glenn ran 5.15 in the 40, an impressive time for a 345-pound lineman. Defensive line A look back at last years draft, when the Lions drafted defensive tackle Nick Fairley 13th overall, should confirm that nothing can be taken for granted. The Lions defense is built on the defensive line rushing the passer. We want to bring pressure every play, get guys to put pressure on the quarterback every passing play, Mayhew said. Contract negotiations with defensive end Cliff Avril would make an impact on the draft if he somehow departs via free-agency. That wont happen. Look for the Lions to put the franchise tag on Avril if there isnt an agreement on a new contract by March 5. Hell be a Lion in 2012. Draft grab: Defensive tackle is a deep position for the Lions, with Corey Williams, Ndamukong Suh, Sammie Hill and Fairley. The draft is stronger at tackle than at end, Mayhew said. At least seven prospects are second-round prospects. Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young could have more extensive roles at defensive end. This is strictly a depth position in the draft. The Lions will be fine if they dont draft a defensive lineman. Linebacker A lot depends on whether Stephen Tulloch resigns or departs in free-agency. He was the glue in the middle who brought the unit together, with Justin Durant and DeAndre Levy on the flanks. Mayhew has called the talent pool thin because the prospects dont fit the mold the Lions have for the position. Draft grab: Vontaze Burfict was a human personal-foul machine at Arizona State. If he can control himself, he might figure in the Lions draft plans. Cornerbacksafety Mayhew likes the drafts depth at cornerbacks, but the consensus is that safety is a weak position. There are a lot of them, Mayehw said. Thats a good thing. There are a lot of guys to look at this year -- a lot of guys whove been productive in college. There are some premium positions, Mayhew said. Cornerback is a premium position. Its a premium need for the Lions. Theyve been negotiating to re-sign Eric Wright, who can become a free agent. Wright started all 16 games last season opposite Chris Houston. There also are reports that the Lions are dangling backup Alphonso Smith in trade talks. Draft grab: Mayhew tried to trade up last year to get Patrick Peterson, who was drafted by Arizona on the first round. He might be aggressive again this year, if he thinks a player like Claiborne is the answer. At 6-1 and 190, Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina is another cornerback with size, but a lack of pure athleticism keeps him from being a first-round prospect.
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