Overview: Timmy Jernigan was the most talked about draft prospect on a very talented Seminoles defense this year, and his tape did not disappoint. While his 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks this season seem like relatively modest numbers for a player of his caliber, he was much more disruptive than those numbers indicate. For evidence of this, you need only watch the 2014 BCS National Championship. When he came out of the game briefly in the 4th quarter, the Seminole’s run defense completely collapsed. Jernigan was a key cog in the middle of Florida State’s defense during the 2013 season and it did not go unnoticed, as he was a 2nd team All-American and 1st team All-ACC selection.
- Uses his hands violently. His hands are constantly moving, helping him shed blocks and get to the ball carrier.
- Excellent lateral movement. When his motor is on, this guy is a sideline to sideline player.
- Strong Tackler. When he gets ahold of the ball carrier, he doesn’t let go.
- Good leverage. Gets underneath the pads of opposing offensive linemen, allowing him to remain stout at the point of attack and clog running lanes.
- Doesn’t bull rush well. Seems dependent on moving around blockers rather than going through them.
- Not exceptionally quick of the snap. Stands his ground and reacts rather than penetrating and creating disruption.
- Can be controlled by larger offensive linemen. When his hands fail him and an offensive lineman gets ahold of him, the offensive lineman wins.
- Length is less than ideal. Standing 6-2 with arms under 32″, he’s not exactly the prototype you look for in a defensive tackle.
- Inconsistent motor. Dominant when his motor is on, but disappears too frequently and visibly gives up before the whistle at times. Will benefit from being in an NFL strength and conditioning program.
NFL Player Comparison: Jeremiah Ratliff, Chicago Bears. I didn’t have to look too far for this comparison. While both these players have less than prototypical bodies for the position, both are stronger than their limited frames would indicate and have the quickness to be truly disruptive on the interior. Ratliff was selected to multiple Pro Bowls while with the Dallas Cowboys and I think, with the right coaching and scheme, Jernigan will make Pro Bowls of his own some day.
The Way I See It: I think if I had a pick between the two, I would take Aaron Donald over Timmy Jernigan. But if Donald is off the board when the Bears make their pick at 14, I think Jernigan would be an excellent consolation prize. Jernigan could help immediately from a run stopping perspective, and while he might never reach double-digit sacks in his career, I think he can develop into a player who is disruptive enough as a pass rusher to be an every down player.