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Ohio State's Jenkins using combine to make case to play CB

INDIANAPOLIS -- Malcolm Jenkins hears the questions constantly.

Maybe, the doubters suggest, he's not quick enough to play cornerback in the NFL. Maybe, at his listed size of 6-foot-1, 201 pounds, he'd be a better safety. Maybe he should have skipped that senior season and put those debates to rest.

Jenkins believes he can answer any question scouts have for him at the NFL Scouting Combine. If they want more proof, Jenkins suggests they review his game tapes -- or pay attention to what he says.

"If you put on a film of a guy who's about 5-10, 185, I'm doing the same things they're doing at my size," he said. "In the league now, you've got receivers that are getting bigger and more physical and that's what you need -- a guy that can do it all. With my size and speed, it's something rare you really don't find around the nation."

Perhaps not.

Clearly, though, this week is crucial to Jenkins' future hopes.

Those who wonder whether he's fast enough to cover the NFL's speedy receivers will get a rare first-hand chance to clock one of the draft's top prospects. Jenkins plans to buck the trend of skipping drills altogether in Indy and run for scouts on what one team president describes as a fast track.

Why? Jenkins has nothing to hide.

Jenkins believes a good time would alleviate some of the growing concerns, while the rounds of interviews with team officials could resolve any lingering doubts.

If all goes well, Jenkins could go in the first five to 10 picks in April.

But Jenkins, who decided to stay at Ohio State for his senior season, seems to be caught in that annual tradition of getting every small detail picked apart.

And he knows it.

"If you watch my film, I might not look as fast as some other guys," he said. "But wherever this (talk of moving to safety) came from, it's definitely snowballed. I have no control over where it comes from."

What he would like to do is re-establish his presence atop the draft boards.

Jenkins' resume is full of accomplishments.

He was a four-year starter with the Buckeyes, played in two national championship games, beat Michigan four times and won last season's Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation's top defensive back.

Not enough?

He led Piscataway High School to three straight state football titles and won the New Jersey state crown in the 400-meter dash as a junior, when he also finished third in the 200.

He even likes writing poetry.

Jenkins believes all of that should be enough to convince scouts of his value playing on the outside.

"I've been comfortable playing corner my last four years -- that's where I'm more comfortable at," he said. "I think I can make some plays there."

Jenkins biggest challenge may come from another former Big Ten player, Vontae Davis of Illinois, who left after his junior season.

Davis is 5-foot-11 and 203 pounds and already has an NFL lineage. His brother, Vernon, was San Francisco's first-round pick in 2006.

The Davis brothers are impressive athletes. But there are distinct differences, too.

The 49ers tight end is much bigger, 6-foot-3, 250 popunds, and went to Maryland. Vontae Davis chose Illinois so he could carve his own identity without having to live in the footsteps of his older brother, and at least in the minds of his old college opponents, he seems to have succeeded.

"I think teams found out how good I was (as a sophomore), and as a junior they respected me more," Vontae Davis said. "I feel like I'm a physical corner, who can come up and stop the run."

Now it's up to NFL scouts to figure out if that's enough to move Davis ahead of Jenkins, who is bigger than the prototypical NFL cornerback.

In Jenkins' opinion, it's not a question. It's an advantage.

Even if scouts remain wary.

"I'm going to come out here and perform and do what I've been doing for four years," he said. "It's funny to me, because you've got four years of film playing corner, you think you're doing well. It's like, none of that means anything."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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