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Making the Leap, No. 36: Redskins DE Jarvis Jenkins

Around The League will profile the top 40 players we see Making a Leap in 2013. No. 36 on the list: Washington Redskins defensive end Jarvis Jenkins.

Why Jenkins is on the list

Jenkins was billed as the prototype 3-4 defensive end when the Washington Redskins selected him with the No. 41 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He was the talk of training camp as a rookie, outplaying veteran Adam Carriker before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the third preseason game.

Coming off knee surgery, Jenkins didn't exhibit the same power and quickness coming off the ball until after the Week 10 bye. He proved more stout against the run, as evidenced by this play where he sheds Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele and explodes laterally to tackle Ray Rice for a 2-yard loss. This is the strength of Jenkins' game.

Jenkins finished last season with only 11 solo tackles and 14 assists. He didn't emerge as a pass-rushing threat until December, when he finally grew confident in his knee.

Beat writers and coaches have noticed a quicker and stronger Jenkins in offseason practices.

"I think Jarvis has looked better than he did his first year. He understands the defense now," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said last week. "He has got his feet under him. He's got the brace off. He's running around. ... I think he'll make a lot more plays this year than he did last year."


Jenkins' biggest question coming out of Clemson was his low sack total playing alongside Da'Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp. While he posted an impressive 31 tackles for loss in his college career, he had trouble getting to the quarterback.

Those struggles continued last season when Jenkins failed to register a single sack in 14 starts. Although the role of the defensive end in Haslett's scheme is to take on blockers to open gates for blitzing linebackers, the Redskins would still like to see Jenkins putting occasional heat on quarterbacks. The video below is noteworthy as a rare instance of Jenkins pressuring a quarterback, resulting in Christian Ponder's game-ending interception.

Realizing his biggest weakness, Jenkins has been working on the speed of his "get-off" this offseason.

"I did leave a lot of sacks out there," Jenkins said earlier this month. "They put me in a great position to get sacks and I should've capitalized on them. I'm going into this season not making the same mistakes."

2013 expectations

Now nearly two years removed from ACL surgery, Jenkins believes his game already has gotten "a lot faster" in 2013. He's going to be an asset as a run-plugger regardless.

If Jenkins is indeed back to 2011 pre-injury training-camp form, the Redskins might have a third pocket-crasher to team with Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. It would go a long way toward helping a secondary that was prone to surrendering the big play in 2012.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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