Eagles DT Tim Jernigan may be underrated, but is the perfect compliment to Fletcher Cox

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When the Eagles traded spots in the third round with the Baltimore Ravens in this year’s Draft in exchange for the rights to DT Timmy Jernigan, it didn’t exactly have the press going crazy. Considered a good player coming out of Florida State University, Jernigan became what most scouts expected him to become, good. Some considered him a solid starter, while others considered him a great rotational player. Whatever your take is on the young grinder, there is one thing that is certain, the kid is disruptive.

He possesses great size at 6’2, 300 LB’s and uses his thick base well, while helping set the tone in the run game…something he was known for in his collegiate year playing for the Seminoles. Considered a big body problem up front, Jernigan is so much more than just a run-stopper. He has at times been one of the scariest pass rushers in the NFL.

Drafted in the second round (48th), in the 2014 NFL Draft, Jernigan was thought of as another Ozzie Newsome type of pick. He fit the bill as he was a wrecking ball from day one and hasn’t let up since hitting the ground running. In his young career of three years, he has had better than average numbers, 91 total tackles, 13 sacks and an interception. What stands out is his ability to play in space. His skill set goes so much further than his run and passing dominance.

Known as a studier, Jernigan submerged himself in his gameplan, taking it upon himself to learn everyone’s role on the defense, so he could understand how every cog works. He is known for spending a lot of time breaking down film on opposing offenses and on game day being able to diagnose plays quickly.

Head Coach of the Baltimore Ravens, John Harbaugh, had this to say of the 24-year old monster. (Via CSN Mid-Atlantic)

Yeah the kid can play. He is a pure wrecking ball there in the middle of that defense. He plays his role well. You can tell he can be a special player, he can be a real good one.” 

When Jernigan was traded to Philadelphia, the idea was that the team was looking for and found the replacement of former standout DT Bennie Logan. After deciding to take a big check to go to Kansas City, many wondered if the Eagles dominant front seven would feel the effect of Logan’s loss. Despite Logan being a good player, the truth is Jernigan has the skill set to be a Fletcher Cox, type of player.

He has the quickest get-off, when facing the ball and is always looking to destroy, but still remains playing with a sort of controlled chaos. One of the most outstanding aspects of his game, is that he never seems to play out of position. He always seems to be in the right place, which goes back to his game studying. Jernigan never shies away from the big play and does well when being double teamed. The former Raven uses his hands well, pushing opposing offensive linemen off of his body, while keeping his head up, and eyes in the backfield. It’s his mentality of always looking for the run while on his was to the quarterback that helped him post such staggering stats during his first few years in the league.

Jernigan was ProFootballFocus’ No. 1 rated run defender as a 3-4 defensive end last season, and with 13 sacks in three years, it’s clear that Jernigan has already proved himself as a ruthless pass rusher at the NFL level.

The thought of Jernigan teaming up with pro-bowler Fletcher Cox, is a very intriguing one. Both of these players demand double teams, and in this scenario it isn’t going to happen. The expectations are high here in Philadelphia, as it should be when talking about their front seven. The combination of talent and a bunch of underrated difference makers with chips on their shoulder could make for some very bad days for offensive coordinators.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Eagles have gotten better upfront, starting with the most underrated of them all, Timmy Jernigan. None of us really know what’s going to happen, we can only guess and hope that Jernigan lives up to his potential, but the one thing I know for sure? It’s going to be fun watching him make believers out of us all.

 

Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

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