Summary: Florida State has been sending a ton of talent to the NFL over the past few years, and for the 2014 NFL Draft, the program could easily produce the most draft picks for the second-straight season. The Seminole who is most likely to get selected first is Jernigan.
The fast and strong Jernigan was one of the top recruits in the nation out of high school. After Urban Meyer left Florida, the Seminoles swooped in to steal Jernigan away. worked his way into the rotation on the defensive line in 2011. The freshman led all of Florida State's interior defensive linemen with 30 tackles, six tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks.
As a sophomore, Jernigan had 45 tackles, eight tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. He continued to rotate with other defensive linemen, but his ability to cause disruption on the inside helped Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner to rack up some big sack totals.
Jernigan's best season was 2013. The junior was Florida State's best defensive lineman in its tough defense. He showed a superb ability to defend the run and improved his pass rush. Jernigan totaled 63 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss for the year. He steadily became more and more effective throughout the season. His run defense against Auburnin the National Championship game was superb.
Jernigan has a good skill set entering the NFL. He is fast to fire the gap with explosion off the snap. Jernigan also has good strength to break linemen's grips on him and shed blocks. He can push the pocket and put heat on the quarterback. With his speed and strength, Jernigan can fit as a three-technique in a 4-3 defense.
In the ground game, Jernigan is a load at the point of attack. He doesn't get pushed off the line and can shed his blocks to flow down the line and get in on tackles. Jernigan is powerful and has the ability to take on double-teams. He is a great fit as a one-technique to stuff the middle of the line. In a 3-4, Jernigan could play five-technique end or some nose tackle for teams that consider smaller nose tackles.
For the NFL, Jernigan's best role would be as a one-technique nose tackle who also takes some snaps as a three-technique. He has the quickness to fire into the gap as a three-technique and the strength to hold up as a one-technique. Sources have told WalterFootball.com that Jernigan was given a second-round grade, but a team that likes him could take him in the first round.
Player Comparison: Darnell Dockett. Jernigan is similar to the former Seminole Dockett. Both of them are strong at the point of attack with quickness to cause disruption behind the line of scrimmage. Docket (6-4, 290) is a little taller, while Jernigan is heavier. Dockett was a third-round pick, and Jernigan is likely to go in the first couple of rounds.
NFL Matches: Dallas, Chicago, Oakland, Miami, New York Giants, Seattle, Jacksonville
There are a lot of teams that could consider Jernigan in the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft. The highest that he could hope to go would be in the middle to back half of the first round.
The Cowboys badly need a three-technique for Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 and Jernigan could be a fit. Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli likes his tackles to be short, quick and thick. Jernigan fits that description, so landing in Dallas could be the highest spot for him.
The Raiders need to improve their defensive tackles and almost drafted one in the first round last year. Oakland has to get better at pressuring the passer, and Jernigan could have an impact in getting Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Alex Smith to move off a spot. Jernigan makes a lot of sense for the Raiders in Round 2.
Staying in the second round, Jacksonville needs help all over its defense, including on the inside of the defensive line. The Jaguars had a pathetic pass rush in 2013, and picking up Jernigan to push from the interior would be an upgrade.
Miami could consider Jernigan in Round 2 as a replacement for Paul Soliai. The Dolphins have some three-techniques in Randy Starks and Earl Mitchell.
The Seahawks could use an interior pass-rusher and disruptor. The team lost a few defensive linemen this offseason. The fast, strong and physical Jernigan is a good fit in Seattle's defense.