The Dallas Cowboys could be an ideal landing spot for a “relentless pass rusher.”
As proposed by Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski, the Cowboys could trade down in the 2024 NFL Draft to acquire University of Michigan defensive lineman Kris Jenkins Jr. The redshirt junior is considered a “potential trade-down target” by Sobleski as he estimates that Dallas will look to stockpile draft picks after trading away fourth, fifth and sixth-round picks in deals for quarterback Trey Lance, wide receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Sobleski proposes that the Cowboys should consider trading out of the first round in order to stockpile more draft picks and players. By doing so, they could select Jenkins with a lower draft pick.
“The described mentality applies to the NFL draft, where the Cowboys will likely be in somewhat of a financial bind after re-signing some of their free agents, with a need to add a more talent and a couple of selections,” writes Sobleski. “A trade out of the first round entirely would help the Cowboys address some of those areas.”
Cowboys Lacking Picks in 2024 NFL Draft
At the current moment, Dallas would hold the No. 27 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. They don’t have any draft picks between Rounds 4 and 6.
The 22-year-old Jenkins is the son of former four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins. Jenkins also racked up three All-Pro selections during his career (2002, 2003 and 2008) and spent 10 years in the NFL, including stints with the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets.
As noted by Daniel Kelly of First Round Mock, Jenkins Jr. has been given a first-round draft projection by just about every major sports media outlet, including CBS Sports, Sporting News, Yahoo Sports, Bleacher Report, Pro Football Focus, NBC Sports and The Athletic.
Kelly describes the 6-foot-3, 305-pound Jenkins as a “relentless pass rusher.” However, he notes that Jenkins often doesn’t finish the deal with sacks.
“In today’s pass-happy NFL, it’s all about getting pressure and sacks for defensive linemen, and those who show they can do a lot of both, end up as first-round prospects,” wrote Kelly on Nov. 17. “While Jenkins is a relentless pass rusher who draws a good deal of double-teams because he’s so active, he’s often not closing the deal. To date in 23 games in 2022 and 2023, Jenkins has 3.5 sacks total. He had two sacks last season and he has 1.5 sacks this season.”
Kris Jenkins Jr.’s Strengths Is on Run Defense, Not Pass Rushing
Through two full seasons as a starter, Jenkins Jr. has just seven career sacks. While the size and talent are certainly there, the production is not. Not only does Kelly note those aren’t first-round numbers, he mentions that Jenkins lacks the “explosiveness” that it takes to produce a lot of sacks.
While Kelly knocks Jenkins for his lack of production from a pass-rushing standpoint, he stresses how much of a disruptive run-stopper that he is.
“Jenkins brings more to the party as a run defender than a pass rusher,” writes Kelly. “Some guys are just in it for the thrill of the kill getting to the quarterback, that’s not Jenkins. This Michigan defensive tackle lives to stop the run. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, his 31 run stops in 2022 were tied for the most among FBS defensive tackles.”
The Cowboys feature several notable free agents, including defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins and Neville Gallimore. Trading down to acquire more draft picks while selecting Jenkins with a lower pick– assuming that he’s still there — may not be a bad route to go if you’re the Cowboys.