Johnathan Jenkins: The Weighting is the Hardest Part

USA TODAY Sports

Will the big man from Georgia be able to reach and maintain Sean Payton's desired playing weight?

The New Orleans Saints knew exactly what they wanted when they traded Chris Ivory to jump back into the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft and select Georgia DT Jonathan Jenkins with the 82nd overall pick. They wanted a space eater, a big body. And at 6'4" 350 pounds - give or take 15 to 20 pounds either way - that's exactly what they got in Jenkins.

While at Georgia Jenkins played between 350 to 360 pounds, even ballooning to 370 pounds during the SEC Championship Game against Alabama this past season, which he blamed on extra time studying and less time running.

At the 2013 NFL Combine, however, he weighed in at 346 pounds. Even that might be a little heavy for Jenkins, who considers himself a "340 and below guy." And that's exactly the weight at which Saints head coach Sean Payton wants him to play.

So will he be able to make that happen? Will his weight be an issue?

Back in late February during the Combine, Jenkins addressed weight concerns while talking to the media, and explained that one-time jump to 370 pounds against Alabama.

"I tell them you have nothing to worry about," Jenkins said. "It was the only time in my football career ever that I was that high. It was the highest I had ever been at in my life. I didn't have the right knowledge of how I should have my weight and wasn't educated enough to keep my weight down."

That's great; I want to believe that. But that game against Alabama was on December 1st, 2012. This interview was in late February. How much did he learn in less than three months? We've seen players fail to make it in the NFL because they were unable to control their weight and I'd hate to see that happen here.

I think 345 pounds might be a more realistic and more likely playing weight for the big man but that might prove challenging considering he hasn't really played below 350 pounds since prior to college. But Jenkins is ready to rise to the challenge.

"Everybody had questions: 'Well, he's this big, can he move? Can he do this? Can he run to the ball? Is he going to be tired after the third play?'

"I wanted to show that I can be a three-down guy through the whole game."

Since his college playing days, Jenkins has been on a strict diet of protein and berry-filled shakes. Here's hoping he can maintain that strict diet in the culinary epicenter of the deep fried world, otherwise known as New Orleans.

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