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Anatomy of a WR: Gary Jennings Jr

By G.Stryker

 

On April 11th, the Steelers worked out West Virginia University WR Gary Jennings Jr.  Jennings had some good productivity his junior and senior years. As a Junior he gained 1096 yards on 97 catches with a TD in 13 games.  His senior year, he only played in 11 games but still managed to attain 917 yards on 54 catches with 13 TDs.

Let’s take a look at his tape to break down what Jennings does best:

 

0:08 Slot left: Runs a fly up the seam.  Good speed, gets into space, catches the ball pinkie to pinkie running away from it for a good hands catch and TD.

0:17 Slot Right: Runs another fly up the seam.  Uses his speed to get behind the safety and slot corner.  Tracks the ball well, and extends to catch the ball over his head, pinkies together, for a great basket catch and TD.  Did a great job of keeping his elbows in, and got 1 foot down. A TD in college, but needs to drag that second foot in the NFL.

0:29 Slot Right:  Runs a cross with the outside receiver and goes up the sideline.  Contested ball in the front of the endzone. Jumps up and highpoints the football, facing the ball, thumbs together, for a clean snatch and secure as he’s being hit by the defender for the touchdown.  Used his body a bit as he rotates away from the defender after the catch point, to help protect and secure the football.

0:44 Slot Right: Runs a quick out.  Can’t tell hand placement for sure, but since I can hear the catch, I’m assuming he caught it with his body and trapped it against his chest.  Decent burst and stutter step for a good gain.

0:55 Slot Left: Runs another fly up the seam, he seems to be pretty good at this and shows he’s a slot receiver with speed, as he blows by the slot corner and out runs the angle on the free safety for an easy TD.  Hand positioning is poor on this catch. He catches the ball pinkie to thumb, which is awkward, and traps the ball at the same time against his gut. These types of catches are tough to secure if a defender hits you at the catch point.  Overall, he shows fantastic speed on this play.

1:07 Slot Right: In motion left at the snap.  Left WR runs a slant and takes the slot corner and safety with him, leaving Jennings wide open on a circle route down the sideline.  Catches the ball underhanded pinkie to pinkie with both palms on the ball, then shows good acceleration up the field for the score. Really good play call.

1:20 Slot Right: Runs a skinny post.  Uses his speed to again beat the slot corner and safety.  You can’t see his hands on the basket catch, but you can tell from looking at him from behind that his elbows are way in, you can’t even see them from this angle.  Elbows in closes down the gap space between your arms on catches over your head or low in front of you. By not being able to see his elbows from behind, shows he had very little gap on this catch.  Great form and easy TD.

1:31 Slot Right: Runs a post.  He’s contacted early, but bounces off and immediately secures the catch.  I can not see his hand positioning on this play, but it shows good concentration after contact, and he stays on his feet for the score.

1:40 Slot Right for a WR screen:  Perfect catch, hands in front, thumbs together, facing the ball, both palms on the ball.  Follows his block well, breaks one tackle, and delivers a shoulder hit to his tackler and he falls forward on the tackle.  Nice toughness here.

1:51 Slot Left: Runs a fly up the seam.  Beats his corner soundly with speed, reaches down with both pinkies together putting both palms on the ball.  This is a tough catch in stride, but with proper hand placement and those elbows tight inside his body line, he makes it look easy.  I really like how he doesn’t break stride on this play, and he’s tackled just short of the goal

2:02 Slot Right: Runs a deep crossing route on a flag.  Ball is underthrown and low. Still extends his hands back to the football, elbows in, for a touchdown as he goes to the ground.

2:16 Slot Right and runs a drag crossing route.  Good hands catch facing the ball, thumbs together, palms secure the catch.  Turns up field and lunges for the TD. Could have been called a pick since the TE took out the only player that could have defended Jennings on that play.

2:25 Slot Right: Runs a quick out, then double move back inside.  Not quick on his break, but gets space, and traps the ball with his chest, and pushes through 2 defenders at the goal line for the score.  With that time and space, he should have caught it with his hands.

2:32 Lined up Right, can’t tell if he’s in the slot or alone.  Ball is high and he is well defended. Beautiful 2 hand extension, pinkies together, both palms on the ball, for a secure catch in traffic.

2:42 Slot left: Runs a fly up the seam.  Blows by his corner and the safety. Faces the ball, gets both palms on the ball, away from his body, for a nice hands catch.  Then turns and sprints for the score, untouched.

2:57 Slot Right.  Not sure of his pattern here, I think it’s supposed to be a deep drag, but he starts as a slant, turns up, and does a dirty drag route across the field.  It’s tough to see from this rear angle, but he really had to stretch to get to this football. Fully extended, both palms on the ball since his pinkies are together, and loses his balance from the over-extension.  Really tough catch here, made slightly easier with proper hand placement.

 

Analysis:

Jennings has shown he has good hand placement, and catches the ball well.  He has exceptional technique on deep balls and low balls by keeping his elbows in.  He has good deep speed, but it takes him a few strides to get up to speed. Not as explosive as I was expecting.

He translates as a slot receiver in the NFL, but not as your typical, shifty, jitterbug slot receiver.  He uses his speed to stretch the seams and get open deep. This could be a nice addition to any team looking to stretch the field inside and lack a TE with that ability.

It will be tough for Jennings to make a team on special teams alone.  He has some experience as a returner his freshman and sophomore seasons, but his lack of production and not continuing to return the football his junior and senior years would mean, he doesn’t project to being a kick returner in the NFL.

Jennings has good combine numbers.  4.4 40, over 10’ broad jump, 20 bench presses, and 37” vertical jump.  Those numbers translate to being a fast explosive athlete, but his tape just doesn’t show the explosion and quick twitch.  I’d expect him to be taken between rounds 5-7, and if he lands on the right team with a need to stretch the field from the slot, he could be productive in that role.

 

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