Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Jenkins returns to the New Orleans secondary and should already have a role.
The New Orleans Saints made their first big splash in free agency on day 2 when they signed their former first-round draft pick Malcolm Jenkins to a four year, $32 million contract. Sean Payton had expressed regret for letting the safety sign with the Philidelphia Eagles after his rookie contract expired in 2014, but now the veteran will have the chance to finish his career where it began.
While Jenkins didn’t live up to his first round status in New Orleans, in Philidelphia he blossomed into a 3-time Pro Bowler and was consistently a top safety.
Malcolm Jenkins in six seasons played with the Eagles:
▪️96 games played, 96 games started, 0 games missed
▪️6,404-of-6,500 snaps played (just 96 missed!)
▪️ 58 pass breakups, 11 INT, 4 pick-sixes
▪️515 tackles, 32 TFL, 12 FF
One of the best free agent pick-ups in a long time.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 17, 2020
The Eagles utilized Jenkins’s skillset by having him line up all throughout the secondary during his stint there. Per PFF, last season Jenkins was the only player to play over 100 snaps at the alignments of free safety (201), slot (256), box (399), and defensive line (147). Dennis Allen will likely look to use him in a similar fashion to how the Eagles did, adding another versitle player at the safety position to team up with Marcus Williams and CJ Garndner-Johsnon.
While Jenkins may not be as disruptive along the line of scrimmage as Vonn Bell was, one area he exceeds in over Bell is in coverage. Bell was targeted 31 times in coverage last season allowing 25 completions. Jenkins saw 42 targets and only allowed 22 completions, good for a 52.4% completions percantage compared to 80.6% for Bell.
Jenkins was tasked with being the single high safety at a much higher rate than Bell, and for good reason. While he may not have the range of Williams, this is where his veteran experience can shine the most with his play recongnition.
In the play above Jenkins is tasked with playing the single high safety position. He’s able to read the quarterback’s eyes and breaks on the wide reciever before the ball is even thrown.
This is something Bell wasn’t typically tasked with except in 2-high looks like below.
Jenkins is also a capable slot defender as indicated by the 256 snaps he took there. Between Jenkins, Gardner-Johnson, and Patrick Robinson that area should not be an issue going forward.
In the play above, Jenkins is in the near slot at the bottom of the screen. The Packers will attempt to use a rub to open up the outside receiver but Jenkins is able to recongnize it and deflects the ball into the hands of a nearby defender.
Jenkins may be closer to the end of his career than to the beginning, but he is still a capable player who should fit seamlessly into the defense.