After nabbing former Alabama standout linebacker C.J. Mosely in the first round on Thursday night, the Baltimore Ravens turned to another recent National Champion defender with their second round pick.
In what was a fairly large surprise given the expectations of drafting either a right tackle or free safety, the Ravens opted instead to address the trenches, selecting Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan.
Just like the Mosley pick, the Ravens didn’t address a need by picking Jernigan, but with Baltimore’s tradition of always addressing the defensive line on draft day, it was one that would happen at some point.
Baltimore’s defensive line depth isn’t lacking in talent, and the selection of Jernigan likely is in favor of the long-term depth up front than just in 2014.
Jernigan – ideally a nose tackle in Baltimore’s 3-4 base scheme – will battle with Haloti Ngata and Brandon Williams for playing time as a rookie, and may be the long-term replacement for Ngata if he pans out, as Ngata’s contract raises questions about whether or not next season will be his last as a Raven.
As a prospect, Jernigan is a hit-or-miss player who showed plenty of flashes of potential for the Seminoles in his lone season as a starter, but can often leave you wanting more.
His inconsistencies stem from movement at the snap, and often lackluster motor on plays.
The up-and-down effort may be a result of conditioning, which caused him to sit out portions of the fourth quarter in the BCS title game against Auburn in January.
If the Ravens limit his role to a rotational piece – at least for now – that will help compensate the conditioning that appears to need work.
Jernigan, if given the space-clogging role of a nose tackle, will also benefit from improved bull rush moves as in 2013 he often implemented finesse moves, with the swim move being a staple of his game, sometimes to his disadvantage.
It should also be noted that Jernigan was flagged for a failed drug test at the scouting combine.
Overall, this was a true best player available pick (in the front office’s eyes, of course) as nose tackle was hardly considered a need. That’s not to say Jernigan can’t make an impact in Baltimore.
The Ravens have turned average defensive linemen such as Arthur Jones into studs, so having the benefit of Baltimore’s coaching staff will be huge for Jernigan, whose flashes of potential show a possibly dominant nose tackle down the road.
For now, until improvements are made, expectations for Jernigan should be tempered. But the potential is there, and he could turn out to be a day-two steal if all goes well.
We’ll see when (if) right tackle and free safety get addressed.