Falcons Draft Profile: Anfernee Jennings

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Anfernee Jennings may not be the answer by himself to a years-long pass rushing problem for the Atlanta Falcons, but he would be a start and brings a lot more to the table than just pass rushing.

If Jennings could have stayed healthy at Alabama throughout his college career, we would likely be talking about him as a first-round pick. He carries some medical risk, but this has been baked into his value, as he will probably be selected in rounds 2-4. But if Jennings can shake the injury bug, this could present a potential steal.

Jennings finally carved a role for himself as a redshirt sophomore with the Tide in 2017 before a knee injury suffered against Clemson in the CFP Playoff ended his season prematurely, a gruesome tear that likely affected his 2018 performance as well. With that being said, he stayed on the field in his final two seasons with the Tide and was still impressive as a Junior, posting 36 QB pressures, 28 defensive stops, and 13 tackles for loss. The number of defensive stops was best among returning EDGE defenders in the SEC as he opted to come back for his senior season, posting 12.5 tackles for loss (T-3rd SEC) and 8 sacks (T-4th SEC).

Jennings is not the most elusive or explosive rusher in his class. What he does do is use his long arms and proper hand placement to get past opposing lineman. Most importantly, Jennings utilizes his raw power to get to the other side of the line of scrimmage. This is not a guy you want bull-rushing you. Overpowering opponents in the NFL is a tall task, but he was among the best in the SEC and his strength and technicality should allow him to contribute on Sundays.

Jennings may never be an elite pass rusher in the NFL but has the potential to be above average. However, he is a reliable player with a well-rounded game that can help any team. I mentioned his long arms earlier, which Jennings uses to deflect passes. He had 20 over his college career. Jennings was also one of the elite run defenders in college football last season, and Pro Football Focus gave him an 88.8 run stop grade. His frame gives him a massive radius when tackling opponents. He is also a battle-tested college veteran with a high football IQ who was named a captain for Alabama.

All in all, the Falcons will still have to make additional moves to solidify their pass-rushing plans if they draft Jennings. Scouts will not be blown away by his bend or overall athleticism compared to the top tier rushers in the class. But he would present a terrific value in the 3rd or 4th round as he looks like a future NFL starter and a guy who can contribute to a rotation on day one. I think he likely deserves a second-round grade, and I am higher on him than former teammate Terrell Lewis.

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