So, no one should've been surprised by Jernigan's high expectations as he attempts to replace Haloti Ngata in the starting lineup.
"I want to go to the Pro Bowl," Jernigan said. "I’m not even going to sit here and lie to you."
If Jernigan could accomplish such a feat, it would be more than a personal achievement. It would represent the end of the Ravens' second-round drought with defensive players.
In the franchise's illustrious draft history, the Ravens have selected 10 defensive players in the first round and seven of them have gone to the Pro Bowl. In the second round, none of the 13 defensive players drafted by the Ravens have earned a Pro Bowl invitation.
The Ravens' second-rounders on the defensive side of the ball have ranged from solid and productive starters (linebacker Jamie Sharper, safety Kim Herring and cornerback Gary Baxter) to major busts (pass-rushers Dan Cody and Sergio Kindle). In fact, only one since 2002 has become a full-time starter beyond one season (linebacker Courtney Upshaw).
Jernigan was a first-round talent in 2014 who slipped into the middle of the second round because of a diluted sample at the NFL combine. He showed flashes last season with four sacks in 12 games, and he more than held his own in filling in during Ngata's four-game suspension in December.
Now, he is stepping into the spot held by the most dominant run stopper in team history.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he's seen an improvement in Jernigan since the end of his rookie season.
“He’s more confident in what he’s doing defensively," Harbaugh said. "He wants to play to his strengths. He has a lot of quickness and explosiveness, and he’s focusing on that. I can’t say it’s a dramatic difference, because he’s very confident, but he was really confident last year. He’s a confident guy, so he has really high expectations for himself.”
The Ravens traded Ngata to the Detroit Lions in March after the sides couldn't reach an agreement on a new deal. Even though Ngata is gone, Jernigan said he will use what he learned from the five-time Pro Bowl lineman -- "definitely how to practice and how to be perfect" -- to help fill that void.
"I definitely feel comfortable picking up where I left off at last year," Jernigan said. "Everything is starting to seem kind of second nature to me. The biggest thing now is just to keep it going and building on top of what I did last year. You can’t get complacent with what you did and feel comfortable with where you’re at. I’m just trying to take it to the next level."