By Matthew Postins
Every few days leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft RattleandHumSports.com will profile a player that the Dallas Cowboys could select in the draft.
Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Measurables: 6-foot-2, 298 pounds
Rankings: CBSSports.com ranks Jernigan as the No. 23 overall prospect and the No. 3 draft prospect at defensive tackle.
Draft grade: CBSSports.com gives Jernigan a first-round grade.
In College (from Florida State bio): Was one of the most dominant interior lineman in the NCAA and one of the most important players in the success of the 2013 Seminole defense…selected All-ACC First Team by league coaches and All-American First Team by ESPN…also an All-American Second Team selection by USA Today, the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated… in 14 starts in 2013 he set career highs for tackles (63), TFL (11.0) and sacks (4.5)…the nose guard is constantly double-teamed creating opportunities for the Seminole linebackers and blitzing corners…his ability to fill gaps and fight off offensive linemen was a key reason that FSU had the nation’s 18th best run defense…had nine tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss in the BCS National Championship game…his 2.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks at Pitt on Sept. 2 tied career highs in both categories…set a career high with 10 tackles in the ACC Championship Game versus Duke…recorded a then-season high seven tackles at Boston College…made two tackles and 1.0 TFL against Maryland…his lone tackle at Clemson was a seven-yard sack…posted three tackles and 1.0 TFL against NC State…registered six tackles at Wake Forest…recorded six tackles, 1.0 TFL and a QB hurry against Syracuse…had a monster game against Idaho – 4.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks and led FSU with six total tackles.
So far in the scouting process: Jernigan has been a solid first-round grade since he announced he would forgo his senior year and go to the NFL. He’s getting high marks for his overall play, but some scouts say his technique needs to continue to develop. He was only a full-time starter at Florida State for one season.
What scouts say:
“Stays light on his feet with good movement skills for a 300-pounder, showing smooth hips and fluid lateral range to work up and down the line of scrimmage. Jernigan does a nice job using his hands and footwork to sidestep blockers and collapse gaps, and has active hands and the upper-body strength to bully blockers. Jernigan also shows improved ball awareness and can anchor against multiple blocks.” – Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com.
“Slightly undersized, stoutly built, country-strong run stopper with the ability to drop anchor inside an odd front and develop into a solid, 3-4 movement nose tackle. Strength is his calling card despite his relatively modest size..” – NFL.com’s Nolan Narwocki
Why does he fit in Dallas: The Cowboys desperately need to identify some tackles that can play in the Cover 2 scheme, and Jernigan projects as a definite possibility. The premium in the Cover 2 is on linemen who can win one-on-one battles and crash behind the line of scrimmage, especially against the pass. Scouts like the fact that he has three different pass rush moves and can able help against the run. His youth is a concern. He’s 21 years old, so he may not be fully developed yet, both in size and in talent. He could have some upside there, but not every NFL player fulfills that upside.
The bottom line? If the Cowboys take Jernigan it will be in the first round. That means they have to be sure that Jernigan is a good fit for the defense and can play immediately. He makes the most sense at the three-technique, Jason Hatcher’s position last year, and that’s the most important position on the defensive line in this formation. Jernigan seems to have all the skills and few marks against him, but the scouting process is all about tearing players apart. He’ll undoubtedly be on Dallas’ short list come May.