The Giants were chided this offseason by critics and NFL executives for giving former Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins a five-year, $62 million contract. Jenkins had never made the Pro Bowl but always been considered a top talent, but his performance did not exactly reflect it. In short, he wasn't worth the money.
In his four seasons with the Rams, who selected him with the 39th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of North Alabama (by way of Florida), Jenkins had been a hit-or-miss prospect. His stats were all over the map, as per Ben Stockwell of Pro Football Focus.
Yards allowed: 2,989 (3rd most since '12 by CB)
TDs allowed: 22 (3rd)
INT: 10 (t-12th)
Passes Defensed: 34 (t-7th)
With the Rams, Jenkins possessed the speed and agility to make phenomenal plays but also had the propensity to get burned for big chunks of yards and touchdowns. He's already shown those some of those traits here as a Giant this season, but his overall play has been more positive than negative and he has vindicated GM Jerry Reese, who rolled the dice in signing Jenkins to bolster the sagging pass defense.
"Jenkins challenges wide receivers, he competes, and he makes plays," Reese said after signing Jenkins. "He has outstanding transition skills."
We've seen that, and Jenkins' former coach, the Rams' Jeff Fisher who will be on the other sideline this Sunday in London, already knows the value Jenkins can bring to a secondary.
"It was a disappointing loss for us," Fisher said of Jenkins' free agent decision to leave. "He's an outstanding young man, one of my favorites that I've ever had an opportunity to coach. With all due respect to the other corners in the league right now, it's hard to find one that's playing better than he is."
That may be true. Jenkins has 24 tackles (22 solo) with seven passes defensed, which is tied for third in the league. He is also third in the NFL in defensive snaps played (432) behind teammate Landon Collins and Miami LB Kiko Alonso, who both have 443.
Jenkins has made his presence known all over the field. He was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against New Orleans in Week 2. Jenkins scored the Giants' only touchdown in their 16-13 victory when he scooped up a blocked field goal and returned it 65 yards for the score.
Jenkins, who hails from a small town in Florida, does not pay much attention to impressions of his play by the fans and media.
"I don't know," Jenkins said this week when asked if he thought he was a one of the league's top corners. "I am just playing football and doing what I do. That is a nice compliment, but I am just going to stay focused and continue to play football. I mean, I don't talk about it. I let people like you all do the ratings and say what you all have to say. I just play football."
Jenkins admitted he had every intention of re-signing with the Rams, but the Giants blew them out of the water with their offer.
"It was hard, but business is business," he said about leaving the Rams. "I am gone and I am here now."
"We made every attempt and it's just one of those things that happens in free agency," Fisher said. "So I was disappointed. I spoke with him, he wanted to come back, it's just didn't work out; it was out of our control."
There's more to the game than stats, however, and Reese saw Jenkins as the type of player he could invest in. So far he's been right. Fisher gave some further insight into Jenkins' work ethic.
"There were never any issues with him from the mental standpoint,' said Fisher. "He sees things, he's hard to fool, he plays within the scheme and I can assure you, you guys have probably have not been in a defensive meeting room, but I can pretty much assure you that he sits in the front row because that's what he did here. He's a student, he studies, he competes, quietly. He's got great ball skills and he's playing really well."
Yes, he is.