Any time a player joins a team there are inevitably going to be questions about how he fits in a scheme. Some guys are simply a better fit for one scheme than another, whether that be due to size, experience, or playing style. We have often seen where a change of scheme makes a poor or average player out of a great one.
A good example of this happened last season with Brandon Flowers. When the Chiefs switched to a press scheme in the secondary, Flowers quickly went from Pro Bowl corner to ineffective slot guy. This certainly isn’t a knock on Flowers, he just isn’t tall enough to play press coverage effectively.
Similar questions arose when the Baltimore Ravens selected Timmy Jernigan in the second round of the 2014 draft. Widely considered a first round talent, Jernigan is an impact player who fills a need along the defensive line. The only real knock on him, other than his speed or quickness, is how well he will actually fit in the Raven’s 3-4 defense.
Jernigan is coming out of college as a 4-3 defensive lineman and projects as a one-gap nose or one technique tackle with the Ravens. This is a big deal because he is a bit undersized for the position and he didn’t display explosive penetration while in college. He is, however, relentless in his pursuit and projects well in run defense.
The Ravens feel confident that Jernigan can grow and become better at disrupting the interior of opposing offensive lines, at least in a rotational role. After all, he was largely a rotational player in college. When he was on the field, however, Jernigan was frequently double teamed. Despite the extra attention and limited snaps, Jernigan managed to rack up 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season.
Overall it seems like Jernigan will buck the trend of players who can only play effectively in one system. He was already getting snaps with the first team in OTAs and will at the very least be an effective rotational player on early downs this season. And in reality, that’s all the Ravens need from him right now.
Do you think that Timmy Jernigan has the ability to fit in a 3-4 defense?