Timmy Jernigan: Ravens’ Secret Superstar?


Sep 11, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens tackle Timmy Jernigan (97) reacts following his tackle against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Every team has them.  Those guys who fly under the radar, even though they probably deserve more of the spotlight.  These are players who might be well known to fans of their particular team, but for one reason or another haven’t yet caught the attention of the mass media or the rest of the NFL fandom.

For the Ravens, you could make the case that second year defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan is such a player.  Ravens fans know who Jernigan is, and the team’s brass gave the young man a massive vote of confidence when they let franchise legend Haloti Ngata walk in free agency.  So why hasn’t the Jernigan hype train picked up steam outside of Baltimore?

The gurus at Pro Football Focus aren’t sleeping on Jernigan, as they recently named him as the Ravens’ “secret superstar.”   If it seems a little funny to call Jernigan a “secret,” we understand.  But to most of the football world, he still is, despite an impressive rookie campaign.

You can attribute this to the wealth of talent along the Ravens’ defensive front seven, or perhaps the time Jernigan missed last season due to injuries.  Considered a first round talent in the 2014 draft by many, the Ravens lucked out when they stole Jernigan in the second round.  Perhaps we’ve been sleeping on the young man for a while now.

Related: Ravens Roster Breakdown: Defensive Line

Thanks to a knee injury, Timmy Jernigan didn’t really get to make his mark until week eight of the 2015 season.  And boy, did he make a mark.  PFF points out that over the next three games, Jernigan produced the best run stop percentage of any 3-4 defensive end, and ranked among the best in pass rushing productivity as well.

With the exception of his poor showing against the Texans in week 16, Jernigan had a major impact during Haloti Ngata’s absence late in the season.  Never was this more evident than against the Jaguars in week 15, when Jernigan picked up a QB hit, running back tackle, and a sack in three consecutive snaps.

After returning from his second injury to play against the Patriots in the divisional playoff round, Jernigan made a big impact in only 18 snaps, recording his fifth sack of the year and putting on a strong performance against the run as well.

Related: Ravens’ Success Hinges on Young Defense

Perhaps the most telling sign that Jernigan is a future star comes from his total 2015 performance.  He finished as the third highest rated lineman on the team, behind Haloti Ngata and Brandon Williams, despite playing only 330 snaps.  Ngata logged 546, and Williams played 569.

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Jernigan finished with the sixth best run stop percentage among 3-4 defensive ends (Ngata finished 31st), and the second highest pass rushing productivity rating (behind only J.J. Watt).  In a rookie year shortened by injuries, it’s hard to find fault in that.

So while Timmy Jernigan might be a “secret superstar” to many, Ravens fans and the organization alike already know all too well how bright of a future this young man appears to have in front of him.  Soon, the rest of the world will know as well.

Next: Five Reasons the Ravens Will Improve in 2015

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