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In fantasy football, there are some new trends that I enjoy writing about: dynasty leagues, and individual defensive player leagues.  This weekly column will combine two of those by discussing two jjenkinsyoung IDPs.  I will give my scouting thoughts on how they played a particular week.  Today I will be discussing two young linebackers Jelani Jenkins and Preston Brown.

LB-Jelani Jenkins, MIA- The second year linebacker rose to the top of the Miami depth chart through solid dependable play.  Where he plays depends on situation, Jenkins lines up a lot as an inside backer on short yardage plays and as an outside backer in long down and distances.  He won’t wow you with his superior athleticism.  Instead the backer is a good open field tackler who reads plays quickly, flows laterally well, and can shed blockers using a solid base and good leverage.  Jenkins is fairly average against the run, as he mostly plays clean up by hitting the ball carrier once another defender slows them down. 

The backer is more impressive against the pass, both as a rusher and in coverage.  He drops back quickly when playing in coverage.  Jenkins has fluid hips for a linebacker and covers tight ends especially well.  He sees plays developing well in the passing game and can close quickly.  When Jenkins rushes the passer, he gets good initial penetration and knocks the blockers back while never giving up on the play.  The linebacker can find a crease to the quarterback from the inside or outside.  Late in the game, Jenkins launched himself at Kyle Orton and if he would have connected, let’s just say America would get to see more of Manuel for the next few weeks.  I would love to have Jenkins as a LB3 on my dynasty team.

LB-Preston Brown, BUF- This rookie inside linebacker definitely plays with some reckless abandon.  He lined up either as the middle backer or on the strong side (tight end side).  Brown changes directions quickly and keys off what the running back does to dictate where he is initially headed.  He is a better run defender than he is against the passing game.  Brown can shed blockers quickly, but hits runners high and forces them to carry his weight.  The backer has a bad habit of lowering his head when attempting to tackle the ball carrier; this may cause him to inflict more injuries to himself or others.

Brown spent a fair amount of time in pass coverage.  He matches up well against tight ends and can mimic their movements keeping up with them. This looks like his most natural position at strong-side backer which would allow the injured Kiko Alonso to play weak-side or middle backer in 2015.   Brown had issues staying with the slot receivers when the defense called for it.  The backer got bailed out by the strong front four to force quick passes or Brown could have been toasted for a long pass in any of the four or five times he lined up against the quicker slot receiver.  Even so, the linebacker got burned for a 35+ yard reception by reserve runner, Damien Williams, when the back juked Brown who got caught grabbing high.  The rookie never gave up on a single play, but needs to play smarter and with better body control.  For the rest of 2014, Brown is a LB2/LB3, but will tumble-down to a LB3/LB4 once Alonzo is back to full health.

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