Consistently is able to generate good separation for himself initially in the underneath pass game vs. both off and press man. However, is at his best with the ball in his hands. Is very impressive after the catch, possesses a good first step to his game, can outpace defenders at the second level and displays rare balance for his size. Routinely is able to bounce off would-be tacklers, stay on his feet and continue to create.
However, he isn’t nearly as polished as a route runner down the field in the pass game. Isn’t as tight as a route runner, but has the burst to still separate vertically down the field on the seven and nine routes vs. the Sun Belt competition. But, isn’t asked to run many sharply breaking routes and does need to add a little more polish to his game in the intermediate pass game.
Tends to simply try to outrun defenders out of his breaks. Isn’t the most natural of pluckers either and lets the ball get into his frame too often. However, does look comfortable as a wildcat quarterback, works well between the tackles, can pick his way through space and is just really savvy in all areas of the game. Simply a natural football player.
Impression: I don’t think he’s a guy you want to line up outside the numbers, but as a potential slot man, he’s one of the best the draft has to offer. His athleticism/short area quickness will routinely allow him to create separation vs. a two way go at the next level."
Spurned by Alabama and Auburn despite a productive prep career, Jernigan signed with Troy and emerged as one of the more productive receivers in college football. A three-time all-conference selection at wide receiver and two-time choice as a returner, Jernigan leaves as the all-time leader in receiving yards (3,128), receptions (262) and all-purpose yards (5,971) in both Sun Belt Conference and Troy history. He also ranks in the top five in each of those categories among NCAA active career leaders.
The focus of every opponent's defense, Jernigan broke his own school record with 84 passes for 822 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2010. Before Jernigan broke the record for receptions with 77 in 2008, the mark had stood for 40 years. Jernigan also added 322 yards on the ground to go along with three scores and two more touchdowns in the return game (1 punt, 1 kick) -- giving him a total of 11 touchdowns in 2010.
Jernigan enjoyed some of his best games against SEC opponents, easing some concerns about his level of competition. An ankle injury sustained in the New Orleans Bowl kept him out of the Senior Bowl, however, eliminating his best opportunity to erase these doubts entirely.
Jernigan's explosive speed, elusiveness and versatility are all reasons why he can hurt the opposition in many ways on the field. Dangerous with the ball in his hands, Jernigan will line up in the slot and likely in the Wildcat at the next level. Teams may also use him as a kick returner to utilize his unique ability to make defenders miss. Jernigan's height is an issue, but it shouldn't be enough of a detriment to keep him out of the draft's second or third round.
Release: Has gained considerable bulk and strength to combat press coverage, but can be held up at the line of scrimmage. Good agility and developing technique in this area. Possesses rare straight-line speed to punish cornerbacks who are unable to keep him from gaining a free release. Has the speed to pull away on the vertical route.
Hands: Does a nice job of catching the ball with his hands. Can extend and pluck outside of his frame. Good strength and toughness to take the big hit and hang on to the football. Good body control to contort in space to make the tough grab of a poorly throw pass. Reliable hands for the return game.
Route Running: Very good athlete, but remains a work in progress in this area. Too often rounds off his routes, as he's often able to generate separation based strictly on his athleticism. Not used on a wide variety of routes in this offense and does much of his damage on screens and other underneath options. Can sink his hips and explode out of his cuts, however, so the potential is there for him to be a very good route-runner with greater focus.
After the Catch: Clearly his best area. Good lateral agility and balance to elude defenders in the open field and make slower defenders look silly in confined quarters. Good burst to accelerate through gaps and has the speed to pull away. Has the vision to set up blocks and despite his lack of height, runs with surprising power and determination.
Blocking: Willing to help out teammates when he sees the play developing, but is highly inconsistent with his effort in this area as a whole. Lacks the size and strength to be more than a pest blocker.
Intangibles: May struggle with a complicated playbook. Wasn't highly recruited out of high school due to questions about his size and ability to qualify academically."
Size may matter for Jernigan as a prospect.
In High School Jernigan played quarterback and cornerback, only to start as a wide receiver since his freshman year at Troy.
Jernigan is small, quick, and agile. He has great vision in the open field and has the speed to outrun defenders. He makes people miss with his quick feet and ability to be shifty in the open field. He catches the ball well, he can run the wild cat, and he can even throw a little bit. Jernigan doesn’t drop many passes and has soft hands generally. He’s a team leader and a smart player.
Jernigan isn’t very physical, and his small frame will limit his production down field in the NFL. He will get bullied by some teams and his separation issues will continue against faster defenses. Playing in a weak conference hurts as well as he didn’t produce as well against better competition in the rare opportunities he had to face it. He’s strictly a yards after the catch receiver. Don’t expect him to run routes past 15 yards very often, as he’s best utilized making plays on the run and after the catch.
Jernigan is a talented player for sure, and there is going to be some team that will find a way to utilize him in some way shape or form. He’ll like be gone in the third or fourth round and I think it’s quite plausible to see San Diego, Baltimore, Atlanta, New England, or Chicago use a middle round pick on Jernigan.
NFL Comparison: Dexter Mccluster "
Negatives: Very small, gets knocked around, post season weigh ins will be important for him... Not much of a vertical threat, his big plays come from yards after catch... Has a tendency to round off his cuts... Physical corners can give him fits, gets bumped off routes and has trouble getting separation... Limited blocking ability due to his size... Hasn't been utilized much in the red zone, averaged one receiving touchdown for every 15 receptions over his career at Troy... Level of competition may be questioned after playing in the Sun Belt... Likely a number two or three option for an NFL offense."
Positive: Elusive skill player who impacts the offense in a variety of ways. Quickly releases off the line, runs sharp routes, and gets separation from defenders. Comes back to the ball out of breaks, uses his frame to shield away defenders, and extends to make the reception away from his body. Has great quickness, immediately transitions from making the reception to running after the catch, and displays great skill in the open field. Makes the reception in stride, consistently catches the ball with his hands, and possesses an outstanding burst of speed, which allows him to run away from defenders. Solid eye/hand coordination.
Negative: Not a tall receiver and will be outmatched by larger defensive backs. Possesses good timed speed yet has never been a true deep threat on the college level.
Analysis: Jernigan was a productive skill player on the college level and was used in all facets of the Troy offense. He possesses an enormous amount of skill that translates well to the next level and projects as a second or third receiver who should also produce returning punts or kicks."
* Lightning quick slot receiver/kick returner prospect
He displays efficient and decisive change of direction with rare agility, which makes him a dangerous runner in the open field and a threat after the catch.
Jernigan is a smaller target but is very quick and fast, despite his frame he is not afraid to go across the middle and could stretch defenses with that speed. Jernigan has been timed as fast as 4.34 40 yard dash, and could be used out of the backfield and as a kick returner.
He flashes elite speed and acceleration the ball is in his hands and is sudden into and out of his breaks. He possesses good leaping ability and body control, he adjusts well to the ball in the air and is willing to catch passes in traffic.
Weaknesses: To offset his size he may need to run crisper routes. A concern is that he may have trouble with physical press and bump corners in the NFL. Also due to his size he likely does not project as an outside receiver in the NFL.
He will need to expand his route tree as he caught primarily slants, hitches shallow crosses and bubble screens. Due to his size he struggles to beat the jam at the line. Jernigan is smaller than your prototypical NFL receiver, and though he gives real effort as a blocker he simply is a bit sup-par in that area.
Projection: I think he'll go in the 2nd round. I can see him being a valuable slot option, but he could probably carry more of the load if he needed to. He's got a pretty good character and work ethic. He makes things happen when the ball's in his hands. And he could play a very versatile role with the right team, lining up anywhere from the outside to the slot to 'Wild__, in the backfield. And he should become an explosive return man as well.
Jerigan is a play-maker his speed and big-play ability will make him attractive any time after the 1st. He should be a solid second-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Colts with picks 53 and 58 might consider has as may the Seahawks with #57, and likely will be the 3rd, 4th or 5th WR off the board."
Jernigan got even better as a junior. He caught 71 passes for 1,101 yards and four touchdowns and added 266 yards on the ground. Jernigan also started returning more kickoffs and averaged 23.0 yards per return. Jernigan already has a vast majority of the all-time receiving records at Troy and could add some more in 2010. With a bowl game left on the slate, Jernigan is just four catches away from breaking his own school record in receptions in a season. On top of his five receiving touchdowns, Jernigan has two more on the ground, another on a pass attempt and one each on a punt return and a kickoff return.
Jernigan's amazing speed will turn some heads to those who have not been paying attention to the Troy Trojans over the last four years. He is also a smart football player who can make a big play every time he touches the ball. The NFL should not let him get passed the second or third round."
I have to agree with Wes Bunting: Jerrel Jernigan strikes me as an exceptional Slot Receiver Prospect.
His height makes him a long shot as either a Spit End or Flanker ~ though there are of course noteworthy exceptions ~ and his Navigational skills are very raw, as well.
But this guy is highly Explosive, commands tremendous Fluidity and Lateral Agility, and ~ the best minds all agree ~ is absolutely outstanding in Working the Field and picking up huge chunks of Yards After the Catch.
Full Disclosure: I have a particular affinity for Slot Receivers, as I believe they do the dirty work that is absolutely essential to Moving The Chains and taking command of the pace of the Game. Big Plays are all well and fine, and I would certainly agree that one needs to have the capability to make a Defense pay, if it keys too heavily on what we call The Short Game, in order to keep them honest...But I believe that History tells us that, when it comes to the pursuit of Championships and Super Bowl Glory, the odds invariably favor the teams that are dominant at the Line of Scrimmage and the 10 Yards beyond it, not the teams who's best work is done Down Field.
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