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2020 NFL draft: How does Anfernee Jennings fit the Patriots defense?

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Related: Patriots draft LB Anfernee Jennings with the 87th overall selection

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots double-dipped at the edge rusher position, taking Alabama’s Anfernee Jennings 27 picks after investing in Michigan’s Josh Uche. With John Simon, Brandon Copeland, and Shilique Calhoun all set to hit free agency next March, I’m not too surprised they went this route. Jennings profiles as a stand-up rusher in the Patriots base 3-4 scheme and an end of the line player in sub packages, similar to the role he had at Alabama.

As a rookie, Jennings will already be able to contribute due to the smaller learning curve he would have than a player from a different college scheme. He’s got solid length to go with a 6-foot-2, 256-pound frame that helps him as a rusher and get his hands on passes. In his senior year Jennings broke up 11 pass attempts, a crazy number for a pass rusher. He projects to be the number rusher in the rotation behind Simon and 2019 third-rounder Chase Winovich. I imagine he’ll also be a somewhat regular on special teams in some capacity, although I’m not sure where.

Long-term, he will likely line up across from Winovich as the strong-side on-ball linebacker although he could play off the ball if necessary. He projects to take on the Kyle Van Noy role, playing the strong-side edge against the run game and move around the second level. With Uche also on the defense, Jennings will likely play a more classic edge rusher role. The Patriots will need to help him develop more pass rush moves to be more effective in that role, but I believe he has the physical traits necessary to be an impact rotational player off the edge.

Poll

How would you grade the Patriots drafting Anfernee Jennings?

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  • 22%
    A
    (606 votes)
  • 45%
    B
    (1196 votes)
  • 23%
    C
    (617 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (131 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (90 votes)
2640 votes total Vote Now