The defensive side of the ball will be the focal point for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2020 NFL Draft next month. The defensive line and secondary units, and rightfully so, are getting the most attention with 11 unrestricted free agents coming from those two areas alone.
In 2019 the Cowboys defense took a step back from the top-seven unit they were in 2018. Names like LSU’s Grant Delpit, South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw, and Alabama’s Xavier McKinney have been mentioned as possible first-round picks for the Cowboys. However, there’s a player that could be available on day 3 of the draft that should get some attention, McKinney’s Crimson Tide teammate Anfernee Jennings.
After redshirting his freshman year in 2015, Jennings would register 19 tackles (two for loss) a year later. As a redshirt sophomore, he elevated his game to 41 tackles (six for loss), a sack, two passes defended, and two forced fumbles. He suffered what was diagnosed as a PCL injury in the 2018 Sugar Bowl vs Clemson, however, it was discovered that he also damaged an artery and formed a blood clot in his leg.
He made it back to the field in time for his redshirt junior season and he bounced back extremely well. He totaled 50 tackles (13 for loss), 5.5 sacks, 11 passes defended, two fumble recoveries, an interception, and a touchdown. Jennings would end his collegiate career on a high note taking his level of play all the way up to 83 tackles (12.5 for loss), eight sacks, five passes defended, an interception, and a forced fumble while also garnering First-Team All-SEC honors.
Watch “Alabama LB Anfernee Jennings Highlights ᴴᴰ” on YouTube
Not only can Jennings rush the passer from the perimeter but he can stand up and play linebacker, which could prolong the career of an aging Sean Lee if he’s retained. He showed an unreal ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage with 14.5 sacks and 33.5 tackles for loss at Alabama.
Jennings might not move the needle like Joe Burrow or Chase Young, but he was a productive player for a big-time program against top-notch competition, which can’t go undervalued. He’s definitely a player to keep an eye on in April.