Anfernee Jennings is poised to make a huge impact on the New England Patriots as a rookie who adds depth to the overall defense.
To do so, the Patriots selected versatile linebacker Anfernee Jennings in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Jennings — the 87th overall draft pick in 2020 — is coming from a Nick Saban-led Alabama team that is run analogously to the Bill Belichick-led New England Patriots. The two legendary coaches are good friends and share a very similar football background and defensive formations/techniques.
Needless to say, Jennings should fit in nicely with the Patriots.
At 6’2 and 256 lbs, Jennings will look to fill the huge void left by Collins (6’3 and 255 lbs) all over the middle of the defense. Jennings is capable of being utilized in all linebacker positions and can even be used as a talented defensive end at the NFL level.
Along with his pure strength to accompany his skill sets, Jennings also has elite play recognition skills that set him apart from most players.
In a variety of different roles — mostly playing off the edge and lining up in the middle — Jennings made 83 tackles last season. That was good for the third-highest on Alabama’s team in 2019.
He also led the Crimson Tide last year in tackles for a loss (12.5) and sacks (8) while earning First Team All-SEC in his senior season in 2019.
While playing at Alabama from 2015-2019, Jennings totaled 193 tackles (33.5 for a loss) and 14.5 sacks. He also won two National Championships in 2015 and 2017.
Jennings joins the Patriots with the same experience, knowledge, and verbiage that Dont’a Hightower came into New England with in 2012.
In a conference call after the NFL Draft, Jennings expressed how the New England Patriots intend to use him. Per NESN’s Doug Kyed, he also stated that he is eager to get into Foxborough and get to work:
"“I talked to coach Belichick last night. He plans on using me kind of the same way that I was used at Alabama — using my versatility, being able to stack it back off the ball and line up on the edge and move around, making the most of wherever he puts me.”"
Similar to Alabama, the Patriots will be able to use Jennings in a variety of positions. Knowing Belichick, he will most likely find another element in Jennings to exploit.
Jennings is going to be most useful to the Patriots if his skills off the edge and at stopping the run can make a smooth transition into the NFL.
The addition of Jennings and his versatility to the position immediately upgrades and adds depth along the entire defense that lost three linebackers — Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, and Elandon Roberts — through free agency this offseason.
With all this being said, Jennings and the New England Patriots are as close to a perfect match for each other as you’re going to find through the draft. It’s definitely going to be exciting to see Jennings in New England this season.