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NFL Draft: Player Profile - Rashad Jennings, RB, Liberty
John Tuvey
March 6, 2009
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Rashad Jennings, LibertyMeasurables:
Combine height: 6-1
Combine weight: 231 pounds
Combine 40 time: 4.53 seconds

Stats:
Jennings rushed for 1,526 yards (at 5.8 yards per carry) and 17 touchdowns in his senior season at Liberty. He also caught 24 passes for 190 yards and two more touchdowns. Including the 427 yards and one touchdown from his freshman season at Pitt, Jennings amassed 4,121 rushing yards and 43 rushing touchdowns in his collegiate career. He also caught 48 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns; five catches and 35 yards came at Pitt, the rest at Liberty.

Skill Set:
The easy comparison is Brandon Jacobs—big back with good size who started at a marquee school but made his name playing against lesser competition—but Jennings isn’t quite that good. He’s big enough to run through tackles and is capable of wearing down a defense, but while he rarely goes down on first contact he’s not nearly as punishing as Jacobs. Jennings is quick to the hole and accelerates in the open field, but he lacks the runaway speed of elite backs. His vision, acceleration and cutting ability make him a good fit for a zone-blocking, one-cut system. Jennings is also a natural receiver who wouldn’t need to be replaced on third downs.

Certainly, scouts are concerned that the bulk of Jennings’ productivity came against lesser competition, though a strong showing at the Shrine Game may have alleviated some of those doubts. That won’t stop the scouts from nitpicking about ball security or a running style that tends to be a bit more upright than preferable. Some teams may also worry about his weight, which climbed as high as 265 pounds early in his college career.
      
Possible Destinations:
Jennings would be a solid complement to a smaller, speedier back—and in this age of two-headed backfields it wouldn’t be surprising to see a team with an established back of that ilk spend a second- or third-round selection on a bigger back like Jennings. He could go off the board early in the second round, as high as 39 to Jacksonville or 43 to San Francisco as a running mate for Maurice Jones-Drew or Frank Gore. The Texans at 46 would be a perfect fit for Jennings scheme-wise, and he’d take a good share of the pounding off Steve Slaton. The Eagles at 53 would be another option, and once the third round rolls around just about any team in the market for an inside runner would come into play.

Fantasy Impact:
Jennings is the kind of back who could have an immediate fantasy impact because he projects to get short-yardage and goal line looks—assuming the ball security issues don’t rear their ugly head. Certainly it would take landing in the proper situation (read: one looking for someone to punch it across in the red zone), but if Jennings truly is a Day One talent the team that’s drafting him will find ways to get him onto the field—and a 230-pound back who doesn’t go down easy is just what the doctor ordered at the stripe.

Long-term, the projection on Jennings is that of a poor man’s Jacobs—and since it took the real Jacobs a couple years to develop into more than a touchdown guy, dynasty leaguers need to plan accordingly. Still, far better to get eight to 10 touchdowns from a developing player en route to becoming a regular than to get nothing at all. There’s no guarantee that Jennings will get to the level Jacobs has, but he possesses the physical skills to capitalize in the right situation.

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