Today, let's look at redshirt junior Kwame Geathers and senior John Jenkins, two linemen who helped the 2012 Georgia Bulldogs rank 18th in the country in points allowed. They’re similar in build, but they’re very different players.
Kwame comes from an NFL family - his father, Robert Sr. was drafted by the Bills, and uncle James ‘Jumpy’ Geathers concluded his 13-year NFL career with a one-season stint in Denver in 1996. He has two brothers, Robert Jr., currently playing for the Bengals, and Clifton, who plays for the Colts.
Who you play next to can make a difference in your stats and in the final ranking that a player achieves, and Geathers greatly benefited from playing next to the more far polished Jenkins. Kwame is 6-5 and 342 lb, while Jenkins is 6-4 and now reportedly weighs a manageable 325-330 lb., after having tipped the scales at 346 lbs. at combine.
I watched Geathers in the Tennessee, South Carolina, SEC Championship, and Capitol One Bowl games. He’s coming out as a redshirt junior, but I think that he would have been better off staying in school for another year; he clearly has some rough edges.
Kwame has long legs and tends to play high, and without premier knee bend and flexibility, his 6-5 tall frame works against him. Leverage can defeat size, unless that size is married with good technique. Geathers has had trouble keeping his legs clean and loses to cut blocks too often because of it. He’s at times slowfooted in space and often tends to lumber more than run. On the other hand, he’s huge, he’s powerful, and he won’t give up on a play, even if he only gets to the ballcarrier after the ref has already taken away the ball. That approach has given him a shot at the NFL as a developmental guy. He did pick a bad year to go that route - supply is high and the competition will be difficult.
In this clip, Geathers runs down Tennessee’s Quenshaun Watson, who has broken free for an apparent TD. Kwame runs to the ball and stops the Tennessee ballcarrier just short of the goal line - which allows safety Bacarri Rambo to steal the ball from the RB and run it back into Tennessee territory. This is Geathers’s good side - he won’t give up, and he takes good angles when the play is run away from him. That’s what let him stop Watson short of the goal line.
His bad side is easy to spot. He’s top-heavy; he plays too high and often stands upright during plays; he’s in poor shape. He has a monstrous upper body, but narrow legs. With his height and weight, cut blocks were going to be his nemesis, but he’s doing nothing about it; he’s not using his hands enough or dropping his pad level enough to prevent them.
If you look at this play from the Georgia/Georgia Tech game, you’ll notice that while Jenkins (#6) is only able to slap on the running back, he moves smoothly through the trash and takes a good angle on the RB, laying out in the air to try and finish the play. I like Jenkins and I like his attitude. He’s not the best guy in this draft, but he’s very good, he’s willing to work hard to get better, and he has remarkable athleticism for his size. It gives him a good shot at developing into a find at the next level.
One noteworthy point on Jenkins is that he played the generally more athletic DE slot, although the Bulldogs moved him around to improve matchups. The team usually went with Geathers as their ‘size’ NT, where he could succeed by weighing 100 to 125 lb. more than the next guy, not unlike parking a small bus in the middle of the defensive line. Having OLB Jarvis Jones, ILB Alec Ogletree, the 280 lb LB/DE Cornelius Washington, and DBs Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo around did a lot to help, but Jenkins was the player that stood out in making the Georgia line special.
Jenkins’s feet are very good - he can stunt and shows impressive small area quickness. He also flashed very good lateral movement at times: that’s an area where I’d expect him to develop even more with the right program. His rare combination of size, light feet, and power - his arms and legs are as strongly built as are his torso, hips, and shoulders - has to intrigue defensive coordinators. You rarely find a player of his size with this good of a motor.
His change of direction skills were erratic - good on some plays, missing on others. He’s coachable and is taking some initiative on his weight situation. When your legs carry his kind of weight, knee andankle problems are common, so he’s already working on it. He was a leader up front for Georgia, and his aggressive attitude was contagious. His size precludes many sacks in pass rushing - he’s not going to be able to get sideways and slip through gaps easily - but his ability to collapse the pocket is excellent.
He’s the kind of player who makes this a deep draft at the DT position; he’s not likely to be a dominant player right away, but he’s great raw material and he showed the sense to spend an extra year learning at the college level. That’s what really predominates in this draft - the ‘next tier’ guys who aren't truly elite are both many and talented this year. Jenkins is a good example of that.
With Terrance Knighton and Kevin Vickerson already on board, Denver may or may not have another 330 lb. NT/DT in mind, but they could use his kind of building block for a long time to come - Vickerson is 30 this season, and developing a replacement would be wise. I think that placing Jenkins next to Derek Wolfe would make both players even more effective. I still see an opening for an under tackle with a predominantly pass rushing skillset on Denver’s DL, but a big, quick, powerful player of Jenkins's size would give Jack Del Rio a set of DTs that’s both massive and talented.