Scouting Shaneil Jenkins

The Jets made a roster move yesterday, signing defensive lineman Shaneil Jenkins and releasing Courtney Upshaw. Today, we're going to break Jenkins down in detail.

The 24-year old Jenkins is listed at 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds and was undrafted out of Shepherd University in 2016. The Jets are already his fifth NFL team and he's never played in a regular season game. However, he showed some promise with the Cowboys in preseason during his rookie year, before suffering a knee injury.


Jenkins played as a defensive end and tight end in high school, earning a scholarship to Division II Shepherd University. Over his first two seasons at Shepherd, he only started four games but made some good contributions with 30 tackles and six sacks.

As a junior, Jenkins became a full-time starter and was an all-MEC selection after racking up 29 tackles, 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

In his senior year, Jenkins was dominant, winning the MEC Defensive Player of the Year award. He ended up with 41 tackles, 13.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Jenkins attended West Virginia's pro day and made a good impression, but was not selected in the 2016 draft. Denver signed him as an undrafted free agent but, although he initially got off to a good start, he was surprisingly released a week into camp.

Dallas picked Jenkins up and he saw plenty of action in the first two preseason games due to injuries. He registered six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.

Unfortunately, Jenkins injured his knee and missed the rest of preseason. He was eventually released with an injury settlement, although he did get healthy enough to spend a few weeks on Seattle's practice squad in December.

Seattle signed Jenkins to a futures deal last year but they cut him in camp. He was claimed by the Packers but was released after having failed his physical. He did not play in preseason and was not with a team at any point during the 2017 season or since the start of the league year.

Let's take a closer look at what Jenkins brings to the table, divided into categories. In the gifs included in this article, Jenkins was wearing #69 with Dallas and #9 in college.


While Jenkins is listed at 6'4" and 275, he's actually listed at 295 in some places. He had measured 6'3" and 281 at his pro day.

Jenkins posted a solid but unspectacular set of numbers at his pro day. He ran a 4.84 40-yard dash, had a 30-inch vertical, a 4.54 short shuttle and a 7.25 three-cone drill. He also posted 24 bench press reps.


In college Jenkins primarily played defensive end, usually lining up directly across from or just outside the tackle. He occasionally played inside or standing up on the edge.

While projected to defensive end at the NFL level, the injury-plagued Cowboys employed him mostly as a defensive tackle in his preseason action with them and he handled those assignments well.

He would be most likely to play as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 system but his role will also depend on whether he's closer to 275 or 295 right now. The fact he took Upshaw's roster spot doesn't tell us much, because we were already speculating as to whether Upshaw would play inside, outside or both.


From his film, Jenkins gives a good effort in the trenches and in pursuit. He showed some ability to handle a big workload in preseason action too, playing 40 snaps in one game.

On one play in particular, Jenkins was double-teamed on a passing down but kept working and eventually got enough penetration to flush the quarterback from the pocket.

Run defense

Jenkins showed an ability to be productive in the running game in his senior year, registering 9.5 tackles for loss against the run.

Much of this is because he was either too athletic or too powerful (and sometimes both) for the linemen he was facing. He showed an ability to shoot a gap or penetrate at the point of attack.

You might have expected Jenkins to struggle to adjust to playing inside, especially since he was making the jump from Division II to the NFL. However, he handled those assignments quite well with Dallas, showing a good ability to flow to the football and clean up on the backside.

At the point of attack, he could be overpowered at times, as you might expect for a converted defensive end:


However, even on the play above, you can see how he fought off the block to almost get in on the tackle. On this play, he is initially double teamed off the line, but reanchors and fights off the blockers to stuff the run:


Pass rush

In addition to his sack numbers, Jenkins also generated a ton of quality pressure at Shepherd. While it seems unlikely Jenkins will replicate his pass rushing production from college, he displays flashes of ability that suggest he could make contributions at the pro level.

Jenkins is explosive out of his stance, transitions from speed to power off the edge effectively and has good closing speed.

In preseason action, Jenkins had two sacks in two games, both of which came on stunts. He displays his closing speed on this one:


While this isn't his most spectacular highlight, it notable because he gets a good surge against a veteran starter in Garrett Reynolds, pushing him back into the quarterback to hurry the quick throw:



Jenkins seems to have a good understanding of leverage in the trenches and uses his hands well to keep blockers off him.

As a pass rusher, he didn't just rely on his speed and strength advantages to generate pressure. Here's a play where he used a spin move effectively:


He showed off a good arm over move on this play from his preseason action too, although you can see from this how limited he might be in terms of being able to bend the edge:



Jenkins wasn't particularly productive as a tackler, but disrupted plenty of runs by penetrating at the college level. He seems to wrap up effectively and didn't have issues with missed tackles.

He had this forced fumble in preseason action and five more in his last two years at Shepherd:


Here's an almost indescribable and resourceful play that he makes from on the ground after penetrating into the backfield:



Jenkins didn't drop into coverage often, if at all, in college, although he did record five pass breakups in his final two seasons. He did chase down some backs on short passes though. He never dropped into coverage with Dallas.

Here's a play where he batted down a pass at the line:


Special teams

Jenkins' only special teams reps with Dallas were on the field goal defense. He had displayed a knack for pressuring kicks in the past, although he was only credited with one block:



Jenkins seems to have good pass rushing instincts. He keeps his head up and is aware of what's going on around him and adjusts accordingly.

In the running game, he was less instinctive as he was susceptible to cut blocks and took himself out of a few plays at the NFL level. However, that may be attributable to the fact that playing on the inside was new to him.


Jenkins is a dedicated player who works hard and is determined to be successful at the pro level. He impressed coaches by filling in well at an unfamiliar position with the Cowboys.

In preseason, he had one penalty for unnecessary roughness having retaliated to protect his teammate at the end of a play.


Jenkins' knee injury in 2016 is a concern, although he did make it back onto the Seahawks' practice squad and then their 90-man roster thereafter.

The failed physical last August - and subsequent lack of interest from around the league - is perhaps more concerning, but presumably he passed a physical to be on the field with the Jets yesterday.

Scheme Fit

As indicated above, it's not entirely clear how the Jets would opt to use Jenkins, but apparently they have a plan for him, since Todd Bowles indicated at yesterday's press conference that they felt he was a better fit for their system than Upshaw was.


Jenkins doesn't really address the Jets' need for a rush linebacker, but could bring some pass rushing abilities should he make the team.

He'll face an uphill climb to do so, though, and might initially be considered more of a camp body with a possibility of earning a practice squad spot if he does well enough.

However, he made an impression in Dallas and was putting forward a realistic challenge for a roster spot as a rookie, so if he stays healthy and flashes in preseason, then perhaps this is the opportunity he's been waiting for.