Cornerback or Safety? That is the dilemma for whichever team selects Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins.
The 6-foot, 204-pound winner of the Thorpe Award, given to the nation's best defensive back believes no matter what the coaches and scouts have to say – he's best suited to play as a cornerback.
"I've been more comfortable at corner," Jenkins said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "That's where I've been playing my last four years. I'm confident I can make some plays there."
During his four-year career as a Buckeye, Jenkins registered 196 tackles, picked off 11 passes and forced three fumbles. Despite putting up impressive numbers and being named All-Big 10 the last three seasons, some scouts doubt whether he's fast enough to play corner in the NFL.
"I've heard all the stipulations about how if I run slow then I'm going to be a safety and all of that," he said prior to his workout at the combine. "I'm not really worried about it. It's all about how I'm going to run and I'm real confident in how I'm going to do with that."
Unfortunately for Jenkins, his 4.51, 40-yard dash time at the Combine and 4.55 time at his pro day did nothing to dispute the doubts of many talent evaluators. Still, there remains a very good chance that Jenkins is the first cornerback selected in the Draft.
"If you look at my film, I might not look as fast as some other guys," he admitted. "Wherever that came from, it's definitely snow-balled. I have no control over where it's come from. I can only control what I do and how I perform."
Because the cornerback position at the NFL level demands top-flight speed in order to run stride-for-stride with the elite athletes at the wide receiver position, Jenkins knows that an improved 40 time will only help solidify his draft status.
He also knows his playmaking ability as a Buckeye over the course of his career counts for something too.
"It's funny to me because you play and you have four years of film on you, and you're playing corner and you think you're doing well and none of that means anything," he said. "Everybody has something to prove."
Jenkins stands out more than other cornerbacks because of his physical style of play. Unafraid to make tackles against opposing running backs or jam wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, Jenkins knows he brings a lot to the table.
"I do what every other corner [does]," he said. "If you put on a film of a guy that's 5-10,
185 [pounds], I'm doing the same things that they're doing – at my size. In the league you've got receivers that are bigger and more physical, and that's what you need, a guy that can do it all. With my size and speed, it's something rare that you don't find a lot around the nation."
No matter which team ends up acquiring Jenkins' services, the talented cornerback will do whatever it takes to win ball games.
"Don't get me wrong, [I] want to do whatever it is I have to do to play. I played safety as a
junior and I was comfortable with it and it's something I can definitely do. My preferred
position would be corner. I'm the type of guy I'm going to play special teams,
wherever you need me."