Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #25 – Dallas Cowboys – Mike Jenkins (via Seattle Seahawks)

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Dallas Cowboys have moved up three spots, presumably for a cornerback. They take DB Mike Jenkins of South Florida.

I like this move. Indeed, Jenkins is higher rated than Felix Jones, who they took three picks earlier.

Scouts, Inc.: 17th

(5’10″, 197, 4.379) | SOUTH FLORIDA
Scouts Grade: 94

Strengths: Is thickly built for his adequate height. He has very quick feet and is extremely smooth getting in and out of his backpedal. Does a good job of opening up hips, shows a second gear when tracking the ball downfield and has the long arms to occasionally tip away passes from a trail position. Possesses outstanding top-end speed and can make up ground when the ball is in the air. Is smooth when forced to change directions quickly, shows very good burst coming out of cuts and shows outstanding balance coming out of his pedal. Times jumps fairly well and is tall enough to compete for jump balls. Continues to show more versatility with experience. Has some experience lining up at safety, can line up over the slot or on the outside and shows good instincts and closing burst when turned loose on the blitz. Has experience blocking for punt returns and shows some upside as a return specialist.

Weaknesses: Hasn’t shown great upper body strength, doesn’t use hands that well and gives away the inside too much. Though reads quarterback’s eyes and consistently gets into position to make plays on the ball, he lacks ideal ball skills. Mis-times some of his jumps, locates the ball late occasionally and will knock down some passes he should intercept. Run support aggressiveness is sporadic. Not overly physical, doesn’t shed blocks well and takes poor angles to the ball at times. Character is a concern after 2007 arrest/suspension.

Overall: Jenkins appeared in 38 games (28 starts) in his first three seasons (2004-’06), recording 92 tackles (two for losses), three interceptions and 29 pass breakups. As a senior, he started all 13 games at right cornerback and had 41 tackles (four for losses), three interceptions and 12 pass breakups. He also has experience at safety and returning kicks. He averaged 30.4 yards on nine kickoff returns last season, returning one kick 100 yards for a touchdown. Jenkins suffers from an asthmatic condition, and in ’04 he missed one game because of an ankle injury. In 2007, he was arrested after a fight outside a bar and charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing or opposing an officer without violence. Jenkins’ asthmatic condition and 2007 arrest do create some reasons for concern. However, he did not miss playing time due to medical reasons the past three seasons and the off-the-field incident appears to be isolated. Jenkins has always possessed outstanding natural ability, including ideal speed and athleticism for a well-built cover corner. His recognition skills, technique and overall versatility improved as a senior, which is why he finally shot up NFL teams’ draft boards. Jenkins proved in 2007 that he’s capable of holding up on an island versus opponents’ top receivers and he became a bigger factor in run support. He came up big in clutch situations (see: interception returned to the Auburn two yard-line) and showed some promise in brief duty as a return man. Overall, Jenkins ranks among the top-three cover corners in this year’s draft, which is why we give him a mid-to-late first round grade.

Rick Gosselin: 15th

Mel Kiper: 22nd

This is more like it. Great pick by the Cowboys: It fills an important need and it’s a good value at the slot.

UPDATE: Here are the details on the trade:


First-round pick (25th overall) — South Florida CB Mike Jenkins


First-round pick (28th overall) — USC DE Lawrence Jackson
Fifth-round pick (163rd overall)
Seventh-round (235th overall)

Mike Jenkins Dallas Cowboys Draft Pick Photo That’s a lot to move up three spots, I think, but chances are that a 5th and 7th rounder won’t make this Cowboys roster.

UPDATE: Here’s a photo of Jenkins via Rick Herrin at Cowboys Corner.

His partner, Charean Williams, reports that, “The Texans would have taken Mike Jenkins. The Cowboys knew this, which is why they leap-frogged the Texans.”


Upset Saturday in College Football

It was a bizarre weekend in college football, with eight ranked teams losing to teams ranked below them — seven to teams not ranked at all.

    #3 Oklahoma lost to unranked Colorado, 24-27.
    #4 Florida lost to unranked Auburn, 17-20.
    #5 West Virginia lost to #18 South Florida, 13-21 (Thursday night).
    #7 Texas lost to unranked Kansas State, 21-41
    #10 Rutgers lost to unranked Maryland, 24-34
    #13 Clemson lost to unranked Georgia Tech, 3-13
    #21 Penn State lost to unranked Illinois, 20-27
    #22 Alabama lost to unranked Florida State, 14- 21

This was on top of several other close finishes.

ESPN’s Pat Forde dubs it “Insanity Saturday” and observes that this throws the whole season out of whack.

Just that fast, the college football landscape shifted seismically beneath our feet.

Just that fast, the Red River Shootout game Saturday between Oklahoma and Texas was dropped to undercard status. For the first time in years, it’s not the marquee game in the Big 12. And for the first time in years, the league’s maligned North looks more compelling than the South. If you can believe it, the biggest game in that league next week might be unbeaten Kansas at 3-1 Kansas State — either that or 4-1 Nebraska at unbeaten Missouri.

Just that fast, the upcoming LSU-Florida showdown Saturday in Baton Rouge lost half its helium when the Gators were shocked in The Swamp by an Auburn team that had lost at home to South Florida and Mississippi State on consecutive weekends.

Just that fast, the three Big East teams that began the season in the Top 25 all have at least one loss. Louisville went down first, then West Virginia, now Rutgers. Suddenly South Florida, Connecticut and Cincinnati are the unbeaten teams in the Big East. Honk if you foresaw that in August.

Just that fast, Illinois is 4-1 and tied for first in the Big Ten at 2-0. That’s the same Illinois that went 2-10 last year, with only one victory over I-A competition.

Just that fast, we have an ACC plot twist that leaves Virginia and Boston College well out in front in their respective divisions at 3-0 in league play. Virginia was left for dead after a Week 1 blowout loss to Wyoming. Boston College was picked last in its division by at least one preseason magazine.

And just that fast, USC and LSU put that much more distance between themselves and what’s left of the pack.

The object lesson here is that no favorite is safe. Not at home, not on the road, not in league play, not out of league play. If those lessons hadn’t already been learned by Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32, and Syracuse 38, Louisville 35, they were reinforced on Insanity Saturday.

And no lead is safe. You’d think the Sooners getting up 24-7 would be enough to make Colorado quit. You’d be wrong. The Buffaloes scored the final 20 points, winning on the last play of the game — a 45-yard field goal by Kevin Eberhart.


Underdogs aren’t scared right now, by much of anyone. Players and coaches are shrugging off past history, blowing off bad losses, not worrying about falling behind and regrouping to pull upsets nobody saw coming. Nobody’s rolling over.

I’ve seen this sort of thing in college basketball before but never to this extent in football. The bottom line, though, is that Notre Dame and Alabama and Michigan no longer have an automatic recruiting advantage over South Florida and West Virginia and Georgia Tech. There’s a wealth of talent out there and plenty of television exposure to be had in the realigned conference structure. Players would rather go to a program with less prestige and start than sit on the bench and one of the Big Boys.


South Florida Upsets #5 West Virginia

A bunch of turnovers and the early exit of their star quarterback sent #5 West Virginia Mountaineers to a loss to the upstart South Florida

No. 18 South Florida is not only basking in the national spotlight, the Bulls are thriving in it. Matt Grothe upstaged West Virginia stars Pat White and Steve Slaton for the second straight year, leading rapidly rising USF to a 21-13 victory over the mistake-prone, fifth-ranked Mountaineers on Friday night.


West Virginia (4-1, 0-1) averaged 357 yards rushing in its first four games, but only managed 188 on the ground after surprisingly opening the game throwing on seven of its first 11 offensive plays.

The Mountaineers lost White late in the second quarter after the junior quarterback was hit in the right knee on a running play. He limped off the field and remained on the sideline, but did not return.


The victory before a record crowd for a USF home game (67,018), figures to propel the Bulls to unprecedented heights for a program that has only been in existence for 11 seasons. They moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A, in 2001 and entered the Top 25 for the first time two weeks ago.

“It’s a big win for everybody around here,” USF coach Jim Leavitt said as he waved his left arm toward the on-field celebration. “Pretty neat stuff.”

Although many will view the result as an upset, USF is not a stranger to taking down ranked opponents. The Bulls upset Louisville at home two years ago and knocked West Virginia out of contention for a BCS bowl berth with a 24-19 upset at Morgantown last November. They moved to the brink of cracking the Top 25 for the first time with a 26-23 overtime victory at Auburn earlier this month.

In a season of stunning upsets, it may not even be surprising anymore. That’s especially true for a Florida team, where they seem to grow more top flight college football players than the other 49 states combined.

AP Photo/Chris O’Meara


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