Jenkins is the last piece of the starting secondary. For all intents and purposes, he’s the new free safety for the time being. Anthony Lynn likes him a lot, even going as far as to call him elite.
The majority of Chargers’ fans who just read that sentence probably don’t agree with Lynn’s assessment. While it would be hard to categorize Jenkins as elite for me personally, he was better in 2019 than in previous seasons. Yes, he whiffed on some tackles, but he also made good plays on the ball.
There’s some data that points to Jenkins being a better tackler in 2020 than in 2019. When James came back and Jenkins was allowed to play more in his wheelhouse, his tackling grade went up. In the first 11 games without James, Adderley averaged a 54.7 tackling grade. When James returned, his tackling spiked to a 73.7.
Jenkins is probably one of the weaker links in the secondary, but playing next to James really brings out the best in him. He’s not going to be on the level Phillips was with James, but he probably won’t need to be.
This is a prove-it year for Jenkins in the last year of his deal with Adderley itching for a chance to get reps. The Chargers will work Adderley into the rotation in some form, so Jenkins has to stay on top of his game.
LA Chargers S grade: B
The secondary the Chargers have assembled is one of the best in the league. 2020 will mainly be a test of health. Provided they have James and Hayward for the whole season, there’s no reason to think they’ll be less than a top-five secondary.
As of now, the cornerback group appeals to me slightly higher than the safety group. While James is terrific, there needs to be a little more consistency on the part of Jenkins from game to game. Harris in the slot is going to be such a relief for this team, as it allows them to run more interesting schemes and packages. I’m most excited to see how King plays in his new wildcard role after a down year.