In a different era, Austin Seferian-Jenkins would have been made into an offensive tackle and he looks like he could have been quite successful going that route. Instead, he stayed at tight end and along with Bishop Sankey, gave the Washington Huskies two dynamic offensive weapons that both decided to declare for the NFL Draft. Jenkins has shown flashes of dominance both as a blocker and in his ability as a receiver, being virtually indefensible in the red zone.
For the NFL, Jenkins combination of size, athleticism and ability to be a dominant blocker make him stand out immediately. He looks the part of an extension of the offensive line but with an athletic skill set that allow him to be a matchup nightmare and a focal point of the offense. There is an issue with a DUI early in his career that he will answer questions about, but has not had an issue since then and been well regarded, both in how he handled the situation after the fact as well as since. The larger question for now is the foot ailment he is dealing with and the fact teams may not be able to see him workout before the NFL Draft. Healthy, Jenkins had a really good shot to go in the first round and he still might, but failing that, unless the medical evaluation reveal a huge problem, it is difficult to imagine that skill set gets out of the top 50 picks.
Vitals & Build
Jenkins measured 6’5 ½” 262lbs with an arm length of 33 ¾” and 9 ¾” hands. He played heavier this past season, somewhere in closer to the neighborhood of 275-280lbs. Unfortunately for Jenkins, doctors found a stress fracture in his foot that required him to have surgery, making him unable to work out at the combine and has all but ruled him out for Washington’s Pro Day. It is unclear if he will be able to hold his own Pro Day or if he is going to be on the shelf until after the draft.
As a result, teams and evaluators could be forced to project his athleticism and potential based on how athletic they felt he was at the heavier weight and decide how far they want to assume he would have been more athletic at the lower weight.
On the field, even at the heavier weight, Jenkins was an impressive quick twitch athlete who caught more than a few opponents by surprise. While he was not a burner, his long stride proved deceptive in how fast Jenkins truly was at Washington and he was able to stretch the field more than some might have expected. Jenkins has impressive strength and obvious length, looking the part of a power forward. His potential is somewhat unclear at the moment, but it stands to reason that had he been more optimized at the lower weight, he had even more to offer in the NFL.
Route Running & Technique
Jenkins operates out of both as an inline tight end and in the slot. His stance standing up is too tall and he tends to bounce and be a little slow off of the ball. His three-point stance is better but the same first step quickness can come up and make him look slow off the ball. He needs to get more effectively in improving that initial step to make it more difficult for opponents to jam him and just make him play faster.
Jenkins has the ability to attack in short yardage areas, in that 5 to 7 yard range or in the flat, both for first downs as well as getting into the end zone, but he tends to be at his best attacking right behind the second level of the defense. Some will criticize his speed and coming off the ball, he can look sluggish, but when he is able to get momentum, he catches opponents by surprise and is able to create separation going down the field.
Jenkins does a good job of planting his foot in the ground and getting outside, using his length to shield opponents out and just being able to reach. He makes for a big target when he attacks opponents down the seam or with post routes. Part of why he is able to get separation underneath is that he is a threat to attack down the field.
Jenkins has shown that when he plants his foot in the ground, he can lose opponents. He is a terror in the end zone and his size and length makes him incredibly difficult to stop in that area of the field.
Jenkins has solid hands and an enormous catch radius that he is always trying to expand. For the most part, Jenkins is always looking to snatch the ball out of the air with his hands. He is not only able to reach out for the football, but he is difficult to cover because he is able to go up and high point the football, using his body to box opponents out of the play. Jenkins shows strong hands and makes it difficult for opponents to rip the ball out once he has it.
There are some occasional drops that seem to be more related to focus than anything else. The more fluid he can become with his hips, the larger his catch radius can become as he will be able to twist around and catch passes behind him without issue.
Run After Catch
Jenkins is a threat after the catch, using his size to his advantage. His long strides make it so he can get yardage quickly and the Huskies were not afraid to use quick throws to get the ball in his hands and let him run after the catch. In general, he is going to try to get as many yards as he can and bull people over with strength, but occasionally, he will flash some agility and make a man miss.
Jenkins has the ability to be a dominant blocker and flashes it, but is inconsistent. Largely, it comes down to his feet and how active he is with them. At times, Jenkins will rely on his long arms and overall length and end up leaning to push opponents out of the play, stopping his feet and not finishing plays. The times he does, he is agile and impressive in his lateral ability. The times he does not, he ends up looking like a much poorer athlete and looks slow and off balance.
The same thing applies when Jenkins is going forward. When he locks onto an opponent and drives his feet, he looks like he could be mistaken for an offensive tackle. His strength is impressive and he can bulldoze opponents down the field, putting them on skates. When he stops his feet, he gives them the ability to work out of blocks by getting him off balance.
The other area that can get Jenkins in trouble is how he attacks opponents out of his stance. Too often, he hesitates to line up and make his block, when he could just step at them and immediately put them at a disadvantage because they have to account for him as a receiving threat.
While there are some issues to pick apart with Jenkins, he has impressive strength and can be a dominant force in the running game who can also help in pass protection. Even when he is wrong in technique, he is still a difficult matchup for opponents to stop.
Jenkins’ best fit is inline as an extension of the offensive line, looking to get downhill and play smash mouth football. His ability to be a powerful blocker in the running game combined with play action and taking advantage of his size in the middle of the field should open up opportunities on the outside for his teammates.
Certainly, he can contribute in the slot, but needs to get more fluid coming off of the ball. The hope is that the thinner, sleeker version of Jenkins will provide a team with a more athletic version. Still, he is at his best when he can line up next to the right tackle and they can play downhill.
It is difficult to imagine he would not have a substantial contribution as a rookie as long as he is able to get healthy and prepared for the season. Even if he does nothing but blocks and makes plays in the red zone, he could have a great year. Expanding his role with time, he has the talent to be an impact player.
Jenkins may share the most in common with Brandon Pettigrew of the Detroit Lions. Pettigrew was a more polished blocker coming out of Oklahoma State and regarded as a tackle that could catch while Jenkins has more potential to be a pass catcher. Jenkins has the ability to be that type of blocker should he want to be, but should at least be the pass catcher Pettigrew has been with a great chance to do more.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins came into this season as one of the most highly touted tight ends in the country and he has not disappointed in what he did this year, though the field has gotten decidedly more cluttered. He has to do a better job with his feet in blocking and getting a quicker first step off of the ball, but Jenkins can be a dominant blocker. Jenkins is a huge target in the passing game and can be a nightmare in the red zone and behind linebackers. His injury situation makes it more difficult to properly evaluate him based on where he is now, but had he stayed the same, he would have been a fringe first round pick. Jenkins could still end up going in the first round, but even with the injury situation, it looks difficult for him to get out of the top 50 picks.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com