In a recent 2024 NFL mock draft, ESPN draft expert Jordan Reid gave his early prediction for the first round of next year’s draft. In it, he included Michigan defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, whom he projected to go 22nd overall to the Los Angeles Chargers.
It’s no surprise to see Jenkins getting some early buzz as one of the draft’s top prospects, as he turned in a breakout season last year and likely would have been drafted had he opted to declare for the 2023 draft. Last year, Jenkins led the Wolverines’ defensive line in tackles with 54, including 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Last year, his efforts also earned him All-Big Ten honorable mentions from the coaches and media.
Jenkins opted to return for his senior season, citing his desire to pursue a national championship. He will be expected to take on an even larger role up front with the departure of veteran defensive linemen Mazi Smith and Mike Morris.
While he wasn’t one of the biggest names in the 2020 recruiting cycle (a three-star according to the 247Sports composite), Jenkins has put together a solid college career and is an intriguing draft prospect. He has a desirable combination of speed and strength, and plenty of size at 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds. He has been durable, appearing in all of Michigan’s games over the last two seasons, and has also improved each year, suggesting his best football still might be ahead of him.
His movement skills and athleticism are desirable in today’s NFL, making Jenkins a good bet to continue the run of Michigan defensive linemen being drafted in the first round. His potential as a run-stuffer was also cited by Reid as his reason why Jenkins might be a good fit for the Chargers, a team that struggled to defend the run last year. While Jenkins is the only Wolverine listed in Reid’s first-round mock, it is still early and it won’t be a surprise to see him joined by a few teammates if the program continues to win like they have in recent years.