BIRDLAND – The bat phone rang early Wednesday morning.
It was a call about the Falcons’ private workout with Troy wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan.
He is moving up on a lot of draft boards and there is some concern that he might not be available with the Falcons pick in the second round.
It’s reasonable to conclude that the Falcons are going defensive end with the 27th pick in the first round.
But Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, head coach Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey don’t show up for everybody’s private workout unless the player is getting serious consideration. They were all at Jernigan’s workout on Wednesday.
During the combine, in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smith said he wanted more explosive plays from the offense.
“Creating the explosive play is an area where we have to improve,” Smith said. “[Explosive plays are defined as ones that gain 20 yards or more.] Really, creating those explosive plays are very similar to the turnover ratio. If you are giving up a lot of explosive plays, it doesn’t really matter how many that you get. You want to win the explosive [play] ratio just like you do the turnover ratio.”
Well, Mr. Jernigan is a stick of dynamite waiting to explode. Check out his video!
He’s run a low of 4.32 in the 40-yard dash and a high of 4.55. So, basically, he’s an move/slot receiver in the Percy Harvin mold. He played quarterback in high school and was used in Troy’s version of the Dirty Bird (Wildcat). He led Eufaula (Ala.) High School to two Region 5A championships, 2005 and 2006.
At the NFL scouting combine, Jernigan was asked to compare himself to current receiver.
“I would have to say DeSean Jackson,” Jernigan said. “At Troy, I didn’t get a lot (of press coverage). I can get off of press, but I just didn’t see it a lot in the conference I played in. But I can get off press. I can play outside or inside.”
He also is a kickoff and punt return prospect.
At Troy, Jernigan used to practice against defensive back Leodis McKelvin, who was selected with the 11th pick by Buffalo in 2008.
“Yeah, that and the practice time I put in and going up against other corners like Patrick Peterson my sophomore year – it was his freshman year,” Jernigan said.
Jernigan was asked to describe what a team would be getting if they selected him.
“No. 1, they’ll get a hard worker throughout, 24-7,” Jernigan said. “I’ll do anything to get a win. They’ll get a good receiver, special teams and a team player.”
He returned punts for the first time as a senior and returned kickoffs since his sophomore season.
“I enjoy it a lot,” Jernigan said. “I just love the ball in my hand.”
He caught 84 passes for 822 yards and six touchdowns. He had 10 catches for 209 yards against Arkansas State on Sept. 25. He also had three touchdowns rushing, one kickoff return touchdown and one punt return touchdown.
Of course, playing in the NFL has been a longtime goal.
“I always said as a little boy playing (youth) football that I wanted to be in the NFL one day,” Jernigan said. “Here I am. I’ve got a chance.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog