Could have issues defending downhill runs coming straight at him
Can play too high at times
Summary: Edge defenders who can get after the quarterback are always in demand given the passing-driven nature of the NFL. With his size, speed, athleticism and length, Jelks has the skill set to contribute to the pass rush.
In his senior year, Jelks totaled 57 tackles with 7.5 for a loss, 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one pass batted in 2018. He had a breakout redshirt junior season in which he recorded 59 tackles with 15 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks and seven passes batted. Jelks had totaled 40 tackles and five sacks over his previous two seasons as a backup for Oregon.
As a run defender, Jelks is a good pursuit player and flows well to the ball. He reads his keys well and is able to get in good position to get in on tackles. For the NFL, he is going to need to add more weight to his frame. Jelks is lean and could have issues with downhills runs coming straight at him. He also gets into trouble in the ground game and pass rush when he stands up too high. If Jelks is able to gain more weight, that would make him a much stronger candidate to play defensive end in a 4-3 defense.
In the pass rush, Jelks is quick off the edge and shows nice vision with instincts to adjust to the offense. He has the speed to close and can run around blockers. Jelks flashes some ability to bend his long frame, and that makes him harder to block. Oregon rushed him from the inside over guards far too often, but his natural home is rushing off the edge. He's a terrible misfit at defensive tackle. Lining him up on the inside suppressed Jelks sack potential, and he could produce more if he's given the opportunity to go against offensive tackles.
As a pro, Jelks would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He also could play end in a 4-3, but he would need time to get bigger and stronger to hold up against NFL offensive tackles.
In the 2019 NFL Draft, Jelks could be a solid mid-round pick. If he develops strength and is able to adept to playing on the edge in the NFL, he could become a starter in a year or two.
Player Comparison: Erik Walden. Their body types are different, but as a pro, I think Jelks could be a similar caliber player to Walden. Jelks could have some small sack totals and then once in a while have a season during which he puts together more production, similar to Walden during his career. Walden was a 3-4 linebacker, and that would be the best fit for Jelks as well.
NFL Matches: San Francisco, Oakland, Detroit, Atlanta, New York Giants, New York Jets, Washington, Carolina, Tennessee, Green Bay, Houston, New England, Kansas City
On the second day and in the mid-rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft, Jelks has a lot of potential landing spots. The 49ers and Raiders both need more edge-rushing talent, and both Bay Area teams are picking high in the second and third rounds. However, they both run 4-3 schemes that may not be a good fit for Jelks. Ditto for Detroit and Atlanta.
A fit for Jelks could be in New York. The Giants need more edge-rushing talent, and Jelks could interest them. In their 3-4 scheme, Jelks would be a nice fit as an outside linebacker. Staying in the Big Apple, Jelks could be in play for the Jets in the mid-rounds because they need to find more edge-rushing talent.
The Redskins could use more young edge rushers, and Jelks would be a good fit in their 3-4 scheme. With Julius Peppers retiring, Carolina has to get more edge-rushing talent across from Mario Addison. Jelks could be a fit for the Redskins or Panthers in the third or fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Packers need young edge-rushing talent and could use multiple selections on front seven defenders.
Tennessee has veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan entering free agency. Jelks could fit the Titans' 3-4 defense across from Harold Landry. Elsewhere in the AFC South, Jelks could be a fit for the Texans. Jadeveon Clowney is entering free agency, while Whitney Mercilus is showing signs of decline. Jelks could fit Romeo Crennell's defense nicely.
Both the Patriots and Chiefs have two second-round picks, so they could consider Jelks with one of those choices. Both teams also could use young edge rushers and have good coaching staffs that would know how to use and develop Jelks.