Commentary | Oakland Raiders best fit for Southeast's Mike Jenkins

adell@bradenton.comApril 10, 2013 

For Mike Jenkins, the Oakland Raiders are a perfect fit.

They offer him the best chance to prove he can still be the elite cornerback who was selected in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

It's why Oakland also is a winner here. Jenkins says he is healthy for the first time in nearly two years and is motivated.

Not that long ago, Jenkins was an All-American at USF. Others may have forgotten, but the former coveted prospect out of Southeast High has never doubted himself.

It's a reason he signed a one-year contract with Oakland on Monday instead of opting for a multi-year deal.

"Right now, I am not focused on that (getting a long-term deal)," Jenkins said. "I am just going to land somewhere and once I do, everything is going to fall in place for me. It's just a matter of being in the right place."

Jenkins proved in his second NFL season that when he is healthy he is a Pro Bowler. He had six interceptions and 19 pass deflections along with 45 solo tackles. Perhaps most impressive, only 48.7 of the passes thrown into his area (115 times) were completed.

This is a marriage made in heaven, though it might be a little short on glitter.

The Raiders and Jenkins need each other. "I want a team that gives me the opportunity to help them and make myself better, one where I can make an impact," Jenkins said.

Getting away from the Dallas Cowboys' soap opera that has starred Tony Romo and Jerry Jones for the past five years should clear Jenkins' head.

The 28 year-old visited Oakland, Jacksonville and Buffalo. Others might have come, but the view on the West Coast looks the best.

Jenkins is expected to start opposite newly signed Tracy Porter, who came over from the Denver Broncos. These are two talented guys who have flown under the radar this offseason because of a myriad of reasons, primarily centered on their health. They both possess elite speed and carry a chip on their shoulders.

The now 26-year-old Porter was a key component of the New Orleans Saints' 2009 Super Bowl team the same year Jenkins won Pro Bowl honors.

Young, hungry and mad is what you like to see in your cornerbacks. If they can run a like deer, it's even better. The big thing with these two is staying healthy. If they can accomplish that, this could be one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL.

Jenkins was criticized in 2010 for not playing physical, and so much was made about a play where he was accused him of avoiding a tackle. But he came back in 2011, playing with a damaged shoulder that eventually required surgery.

Unfortunately, Cowboys overseer Jerry Jones has as much patience as a kid standing behind an unguarded candy story. He went out and signed Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne. It doomed Jenkins, though he had a better rookie season than Claiborne did in 2012. Jones recently called Jenkins a starting NFL cornerback, but he had too much money invested in Carr and Claiborne to keep him.

The market for NFL cornerbacks has turned colder than an Arctic winter, but Jenkins can up the thermometer in his career with a good season.

"I am 100 percent healthy. I am ready to go and play at the highest level," he says.

He will have that chance, especially going against Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and newly acquired Wes Welker twice a year.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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