Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports


For The Record - 49ers’ Jauan Jennings

Justin Wong
Apr 25, 2020 at 9:40 PM0


While NFL Draft pundits and fans alike can give instant reactions to their team's player selections, it's easy to forget that the true value of the picks cannot be fully assessed until after a couple of seasons. Some players become instant starters (Deebo Samuel) while others remain a work in progress (Solomon Thomas). Having said that, I want to pull out the receipts on what draft analysts were saying prior to the draft, along with their player comparisons. With the 2020 NFL Draft now in the books, let's review what various scouting outlets were saying about the 49ers' day three picks. The 49ers traded linebacker Eli Harold in 2018 to the Detroit Lions in exchange for a conditional 2020 seventh-round pick. Fast forward to now and with the 217th pick in the NFL Draft, the 49ers select Tennessee wide receiver, Jauan Jennings.


NFL Player Comparison: Jalen Hurd

Dane Brugler of The Athletic thinks sees Jennings as a 'unique playmaker' in his 2020 NFL Draft Guide:

With his impressive physical ingredients, Jennings was basically a post player for the Vols' offense (68.5% of his targets came over the middle of the field in 2019), but he is also a much better YAC player than expected (led the team with 17 offensive plays of 20-plus yards in 2019) due to his powerful strides and competitive nature. While he introduces subtle moves mid-route, he isn't a quick-twitch player in his patterns, limiting his upside as an outside or deep target. Overall, Jennings has only average top-end speed and will struggle to get on top of NFL-level cornerbacks, but his combination of size, physicality and finishing skills make him a unique playmaker, projecting as a "big" slot target.

NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein appreciates his 'savvy and toughness':

Big slot target with size, savvy and toughness, but lacking in functional speed and general quickness. Jennings can be clever in stemming and tilting coverage enough to open throwing windows, but getting away from press coverage is going to be difficult for him. What he can't do may keep him from being drafted, but competitiveness at the catch point, with the ball in his hands, and as a blocker should get him into camp and give him an outside shot as a big, possession slot.

ESPN Scout Inc.'s Draft profile of Jennings gave him a 34 grade:

He possesses excellent size but marginal speed (a red flag 40-yard dash of 4.72 at the combine). His unique trait is the ability to break tackles after the catch. He's a powerful runner with outstanding contact balance, and he has strong hands in traffic. His body control is very good, and he adjusts well to balls thrown outside his frame. Jennings grades out as a No. 4 WR in the NFL.

Anthony Treash and Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus thought the 49ers got great value with the selection of Jennings in their live analysis of the 2020 NFL Draft:

Kyle Shanahan is going to love Jauan Jennings in his offense. He was 70th on our big board and was a monster after the catch in college, breaking tackles at an incredible rate (30 broken on 59 catches) while posting the eighth-most yards after contact. That should translate to the NFL just fine. Jennings is far from a polished product, too.

With the 49ers' final draft selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, they certainly sent a message to the other 49ers wide receivers to step up their game. Consider that the 49ers had few draft picks this year and instead of addressing other positions like cornerback or safety, they double downed on another wide receiver prospect. The 49ers have an obvious type when it comes to receivers and their ability to create yards-after-the-catch; it's something Samuel and Sanders strived in last season and that continues to be a trait between Jennings and fellow rookie receiver, Brandon Aiyuk.

Jennings led all receiver prospects with 30 missed tackles; most of his catches were off slants as a big slot receiver. The more I looked into Jennings, the more I thought of last year's third-round pick, Jalen Hurd. Hurd not only played for the same college at Tennessee early in his career, he was also heavily featured as a slot receiver on slant routes. Perhaps the 49ers are trying to hedge themselves with the uncertain health status of Hurd? Nonetheless, I like the value with this selection--his draft stock fell mightily with a slow 4.72 40-yard dash time--and can appreciate the 49ers getting another possible red zone target in Jennings.
  • Justin Wong
  • Written by:
    Justin Wong has been writing for the 49ers Webzone since 2017 while also running an NFC West blog and podcast called Just The West. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to @JustTheWest on Twitter.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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