Has dangerous speed and burst to separate from defenders. Does a good job on the quick slant and is dangerous after the catch. A natural and balanced runner with the ball in his hands. Shifty in the open field, with a good spin and jump cut to make defenders miss. Has nice hands and will snatch the ball out of the air. Adjusts to the throw and can make the quick move after the catch to pull away from defenders. Good returner that can make the first guy miss on punts and has the upfield burst to make the big play. Shows good cutting ability and lateral quickness on kickoffs.
Lacks size and won't break many tackles. Struggles when forced to make a catch in traffic because of his lack of size. Is rarely used as a blocker, mainly as a decoy there. Dances a bit too much in the backfield when he takes the direct snap. Dances a bit too much trying to juke guys on punt returns. Doesn't get up to full speed as a kickoff returner and seems too patient there at times.
Jernigan was Troy's go-to weapon the past three years with the versatility, burst, and explosive potential to make plays as a runner, receiver, and returner. He produced against better competition that they faced at Troy, but not always quite to a level where he looked dominant. He is a good slot receiver that projects best in a spread system at the next level. Averaged 23.6 yards on 67 career kickoff returns with 1 score, and 12.8 yards on 29 career punt returns with another score. Combined for 232 catches and 2790 yards (12.0 avg) and 15 touchdowns in the past three years as well as 842 yards on the ground, 7.1 avg, and 5 more scores.
In the right offense, Jernigan can be an explosive and dynamic weapon. His speed and burst is such that most NFL corners, particularly in the slot will have difficulty matching up with him. In that way, he can fill a similar niche as Wes Welker. He is a similar prospect to DeSean Jackson and in a team that likes to spread the field like the Eagles do, then he can be a productive starter that can play inside and outside. If he has another good weapon opposite him, he can be dangerous because he'll be a very difficulty matchup in man coverage and can exploit things if teams don't roll coverages towards him. But his lack of size hurts him though because I'm not sure he's going to be as adept a vertical receiver as Jackson is despite having comparable speed. He has the speed to make plays downfield, but unless he plays in that spread system and teams play off him like they do with Jackson and Maclin in Philadelphia, he's going to have trouble getting that necessary separation. Like Jackson, he can be a dynamic weapon for a team. And if used in the Welker-like role in the slot, he can be a go-to target for most teams. He should be able to come in right away and produce as a returner and as a reserve No. 3 guy. He is a better punt returner than kickoff guy, but can perform both duties well at the next level. As he gets more comfortable running routes and finding his role in an offense, he can start to move up the depth chart and by his third year could be the de facto No. 1 guy. How good and productive he is probably depends on how willing his coaches are to design their offense around his skillset. But he has the talent to be a go-to weapon at the next level despite having less than ideal size like players like Welker, Jackson, Santana Moss, and Steve Smith have become over the past decade.
Jernigan can help the Falcons offense because he adds an explosive element, but right now he's not a great fit in the Falcons offense because they aren't big on spreading the field. Unless they go to a more three-wide offense most downs, Jernigan won't maximize his potential here in Atlanta. He is an upgrade over Douglas because he has more explosive potential and can separate much more easily on the short and intermediate routes. He has the potential to push and replace Weems as the team's main returner because of his big play potential being greater. Jernigan will likely come in right away and carve a niche as the No. 3 wideout, but unless the Falcons commit to a more open attack, it's hard seeing him reaching his full potential. He could be a Lance Moore-like complement to Roddy White and be a guy that can catch 40-50 passes a year in that role, but unless the Falcons open up their offense more, he's not going to be a 60+ catch/1000-yard receiver like he could be in other offenses.
Jernigan has late first round potential for a team willing to use him in a spread system with a base package of 3 receivers most downs. For other teams he's probably a better value in the second round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
After Catch: 4.0
Body Control: 3.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.