8 Days to Camp: A.J. Jenkins

It didn’t make much noise within the Chiefs nation when General Manager, John Dorsey, swapped former first round draft picks with the 49ers. In the aftermath, the deal resulted in the departure of Jonathan Baldwin and the addition of A.J. Jenkins. A year later it would appear Kansas City got the better end of the trade.

To be clear, Jonathan Baldwin had a world of talent when he entered the NFL as a first round pick in 2011. However, like many first round picks, he has nothing to show for his three-year career to date. Of course, it didn’t help that, Todd Haley, was his first NFL head coach. But even with better coaching in San Francisco, he’s hardly made an impact.

On the flip side, A.J. Jenkins was once a high value draft prospect. The former Illinois standout was drafted in the first round by the 49ers in 2012. In being drafted by a veteran oriented team, Jenkins simply never found any footing and basically had a wasted rookie season.

So after a pre-season game in Kansas City last summer between the two teams, they decided to make a wide receiver swap. Baldwin was shipped to the west coast and Jenkins came back to the midwest.

The move went mostly unnoticed because Baldwin hadn’t done much in two years in Kansas City and Jenkins was an unknown prospect who had done even less. So neither side really knew what they’d be getting out of the deal but felt the swap was worth the modest risk.

Granted the Chiefs saved some cap dollars in making this trade but the move didn’t have anything to do with money. Instead, General Manager John Dorsey, felt Jenkins was a significant upgrade over Baldwin. Well he was correct.

It took Jenkins a bit of time to learn the Chiefs offense. It wasn’t until mid-season before he found a comfort zone within the playbook. That’s not because he didn’t get it quite the opposite as a matter of fact. In Kansas City, he had some players ahead of him on the depth chart so there was no rush to push him into action.

After sitting on the 49ers bench his rookie season, you’d have to believe Jenkins came to the Chiefs suffering from a lack of confidence. Fortunately he was given the time to regain the form that made him a first round draft pick.

Jenkins was a late bloomer for the Chiefs in 2013. His stats won’t light up the back of a football card but the young speedster has more than enough talent to slide into a starters role this season in Kansas City.

With Dwayne Bowe locked down as the Chiefs number one receiver; Jenkins will compete with Donnie Avery for the other starting spot. In my view, between the two Jenkins is the better receiver.

Last year Avery struggled catching passes that were dropped in his breadbasket. A.J. on the flip side showed he could make some tough catches and wasn’t afraid to go over the middle to catch them. He just needed reps to regain his form.

With camp on the horizon, Jenkins understands the opportunity ahead in 2014 with the Chiefs, he thought was available when he was drafted in 2012 by the 49ers.

He has a world of talent that features blazing wheels, good hands and he runs precise routes. The only issue remaining for him to get more playing time that could ultimately yield a starting spot, will be his ability to trust his natural athletic abilities.

Many NFL pundits believe the Chiefs are weak at the wide receiver position. But with Bowe, Jenkins, Junior Hemingway and Avery, it’s not so doom and gloom. If the four of them can just catch the ball, they should be more than adequate to get the job done.

Of the four, Jenkins probably has the most talent. Bowe we’ve talked about in the past is either hot or cold. Hemingway and Avery are more slot guys. That leaves Jenkins as the only legitimate option on the Chiefs roster to line up opposite Bowe to start the season.

The Chiefs woes a year ago at the position were numerous to say the least. However, that doesn’t mean talent doesn't exist in abundance on the roster. As a group, they just need to be more focused and refined.

And leading that charge, could be the throw away player the 49ers felt would never amount to anything in the NFL. That means Jenkins has an opportunity to prove them wrong and help the Chiefs offense rise to another level.

Next Up: Dustin Colquitt

Will A.J. Jenkins have a breakout season for the Chiefs?

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