Though Jarvis Jenkins was unable to attend the Redskins player-led workouts this summer as he pursued his degree at Clemson, the second round draft pick felt like he had a bit of a head start in his transition from 4-3 defensive tackle to 3-4 defensive end.
Clemson played a base 4-3 defense, but defensive coordinator Kevin Steele introduced more odd-man fronts and as a result Jenkins became familiar with the formation and “4 eye” technique he will often employ in Washington’s defensive scheme.
That experience has helped Jenkins quickly pick up the other nuances of his new defense, he said, and it didn’t take long for him to recognize the major difference in how the Redskins want their defensive line to play.
“In Clemson it was more getting off the ball, with this 3-4 you actually have an assigned man to hold on to,” Jenkins said. “I’m in the 3-4, I’m in the 4 [eye], I got to rely on that tackle. I can’t let that tackle climb to the linebacker. That’s the main thing. This defense isn’t designed for you to make plays, it’s designed for you to do your job and if the play is there they’ll make it so kind of transitioning to that.”
An all-ACC selection, Jenkins is wearing the same number 99 he has worn in high school and college, a nod to his father and uncle who both wore the number nine in their careers.
Listed at an imposing 6-4, 306-pounds, Jenkins will likely play right end in the base defense and slide inside to tackle in the Redskins’ nickel defense, which flips back to a four-man front.
Jenkins provides much-needed depth along a defensive line that likely will feature newly-acquired veterans Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield, and veteran Adam Carriker.
“I think everybody is competing for a position, I don’t think anybody knows for sure who is going to be the starter,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. “I think you always have a guy who is going to start out there. Can he keep that position? And that’s why you’re looking for some competition. Not only are you looking for competition in your base defense but in your nickel defense, as well. When you’re dealing with that four-man front. We’ve got a lot more depth, much more competition and some guys we were hoping to get, we were able to get.”
After his first two days of camp, Jenkins said he is adjusting to the speed of the NFL, the expanded playbook – he said the Redskins’ two- to three-hundred page playbook dwarfed Clemson’s – and a focus on details on the field.
And it doesn’t bother Jenkins that he’ll be less of a playmaker and more a facilitator in the scheme.
“I’m not worried about it at all,” Jenkins said. “As long as my team wins, as long as my defense is producing and getting the offense I’m not worried about that at all. Winning is more important.”