Coming off a National Championship win with FSU, Jernigan is a popular name around the draft community. He had a very strong showing vs Auburn on national TV and had a solid season all around. With FSU moving to a 3-4, Jernigan occupied the NT position but did more than eat up blocks, as he finished with 11 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks.
Where Timmy Jernigan Wins
Disruption from the Interior: Jernigan embraced a new role in FSU's 3-4 Defense in 2013, lining up frequently at 0 shades (head up on the center) and Slanted 1 Techniques, an alignment the Jaguars frequently used under their first year of Gus Bradley (hint hint). Jernigan has a really impressive blend of speed and strength for his size, and he frequently makes plays at the line of scrimmage. He embraces contact through his hands and does a good job of using push/pull or swim moves to shed blocks at the line of scrimmage. He has the closing speed in space to be able to close quickly on running backs through the hole or quarterbacks in the pocket, and the motor and range to chase down plays from the backside of the formation.
Aside from causing disruption at the line of scrimmage, Jernigan also does a solid job of eating up blockers at the point of attack to let his linebackers fill. He has astounding strength for his size (6'2". 298 lbs) and as long as he is not too slow of the ball, he holds his ground more times than not. He can get under an offensive lineman's pads and drive them back into ball carriers or move blockers off their spot with ease. He is very gap disciplined when ran at, and seems to have accepted his role as a space eater instead of playing "Hero Ball" and trying to get out of position to make play.
As beforementioned, Jernigan is a very gap disciplined player and he helps make a lot of plays that will not show up on his stat sheet. He does a good job of embracing contact and then diagnosing the play and getting the correct depth into the backfield before shedding. He works off blockers leverage to reroute runners on a frequent basis, and when asked to play contain against more mobile quarterbacks he did a good job of reading their movements and tracking them down outside of pocket.
Where Timmy Jernigan Needs To Improve
Explosion as a whole: Jernigan is too frequently the last player off the ball, and his first step can leave a lot to be desired. The only times Jernigan is ever moved off the point of attack by a considerable amount is when he is too slow off the ball and the offensive line beats him to contact by a good margin. Jernigan displays good body control and flexibility for a defensive tackle, but he is not a player I would use on a lot of stunts because he lacks great change of direction due to poor explosion out of his movements. Also, his movements just look too exaggerated when looping to the edge.
Pass Rush impact: Jernigan has impressive pass rush upside for his style of play, considering his closing speed and strength, yet he has struggled to make an impact in that department for a number of reasons. When he comes off the ball, he lacks a great punch, too often trying to hand fight with the offensive line instead of converting speed to power and driving them back. He could develop a great deal in this area, but he needs to drive his legs much better and develop a good initial punch.
Counter Moves: Aside from push/pull moves and a great swim move. Jernigan lacks many counter moves and prefers to work through blocks instead. He is good at shedding blocks now, but is too predictable for the next level and I doubt his moves would work as well in the NFL than they did at FSU.
I came away a big fan of Jernigan. He really developed his game in 2013, highlighting his great physical tools and versatility. In the NFL, I think he could like up in several alignments, primarily the 1 and 5 Techniques, but his best fit may the Slanted 1 Technique, which the Seahawks and Jaguars both incorporate. He still has some growth potential, as he could fill out his lower body more and ad more explosiveness, So in him you find a high floor-high ceiling player. The lack of explosion all together is my only major knock on him as a whole.
Grade: 6.9- Top 50 pick