NFL.com and Pro Football Weekly reported over the weekend that San Francisco 49ers first round pick A.J. Jenkins will need to work on "building upper-body strength" to beat press coverage. There is some concern that with his current frame, that he will get handled at the line of scrimmage at the pro level.
This is one of fairly new concerns that is probably being overblown, but nevertheless, it's something to think about. True press corners, like Darelle Revis or Patrick Peterson, are strong, physical players who will shove you and redirect you if you don't have the strength and technique to combat it -- it's part of the game.
If Jenkins is looking to get better in every considerable facet of his game, he should examine any potential pitfalls early. Also considering that he hasn't quite yet impressed as much as a typical first round talent might, Jenkins should be open-minded if the advice is credible and seems sensible.
According to a source close to PFW:
"He hasn't looked very good," said one daily team observer of Jenkins, who was widely considered more of a second-round talent. "He displayed some flashes with a few really difficult catches, but he's also looked really bad at times, and he seems to have had problems staying on his feet."
PFW also reiterated the number of receivers, including undrafted free agents that reportedly looked better than San Francisco's first rounder. Fellow rookie wide receivers Chris Owusu and Nathan Palmer were competing hard and looking good, Brian Tyms as well.
Between being undersized and easily winded, Jenkins has some work ahead of him. I am by no means writing Jenkins off; I think it's way too early to make any sort of assumptions about someone so early in their career, good or bad.
But Jenkins is 6'0, 192-pounds right now -- New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz, also 6'0, weighs in at 204 and it hasn't slowed him down any. Jenkins could stand to gain 8-10 more pounds, primarily in the upper-body to make him a more versatile receiver. He could battle all types of skill corners and have both the advantage of speed and strength.
It's also not an unreasonable or rare request for an incoming player to be asked to add size, even for pass catchers. A recent example is New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski who weighed 258-pounds pre-draft and now registers in at a healthy 265-even.
Jenkins does not really need to "make an impact" in year-one, but he should consider adding size in order to broaden his game and prevent potential future mismatches. Some of the league's best receivers have that perfect blend of size and speed that enables them to do things they otherwise would be able to.
This could be a logical move as Jenkins refines his game for the pro level.