Alabama EDGE Anfernee Jennings and the Ravens could be a perfect fit in the NFL Draft
There isn’t much to complain about in B-More. The Baltimore Ravens, at 12-2, are sitting pretty, also known as the top of the AFC. They are one of the NFL’s most entertaining teams, have superstars on both sides of the ball, are young, and have the likely MVP in second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson.
However, not everything is perfect for a team that has batted off 10 straight wins. The Ravens’ pass rush — now devoid of Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith — is not as menacing as their past would make it out to be. They are 15th in the NFL in sacks with 34, but that’s with having a one-game advantage over the others. Their pass rush is not league average good.
The Ravens are getting quarterback pressures at a 24.2% rate, 12th in the NFL, according to Pro Football Reference. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Baltimore’s 8.2% hurry rate is 25th in the NFL. Those numbers would be far lower without the tendencies of defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.
Under Martindale, the Ravens are an aggressive defense. It shows in their blitz numbers. Their blitz rate of 53.6% is by far the highest in the NFL. They can afford to do so because of an uber-talented secondary. However, imagine if they didn’t have to blitz so much, and instead, were able to get consistent pressure on quarterbacks? Their defense would improve.
How will they get consistent pressure, though (especially with Matthew Judon set to be a free agent)? The 2020 NFL Draft would undoubtedly help, if, of course, they don’t find options in the free agency pool.
Many players stand out as potential fits in the Ravens’ 3-4 defense. One may stand out over others, and it’s not because he resides in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama Crimson Tide edge rusher Anfernee Jennings could be a perfect match in the Ravens’ defense as an outside linebacker. A stout 6-3, 259-pound 22-year-old, Jennings projects as a power-rushing ace in the NFL. He knows how to use his size, length, and strength to turnstile offense tackles, while his knowledge of gaps and spaces make for a day-one edge setter.
In his senior year, Jennings has 7.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and 73 combined tackles. There have been no indications that he would skip bowling season.
Though not particularly electric off of the edge, Jennings could project as an excellent fit in the Ravens’ defense. He would not be a rotational pass-rusher. Instead, he would be an every-down player in Baltimore’s 3-4 with the power almost emulating what Suggs brought to the table at the butt-end of his Ravens career.
Jennings may not be a first-round guy. There are more explosive pass-rushers in the draft. However, he could fit in the Ravens’ defense. With Baltimore primed to pick in the back-end of the first round, he should be an available option there, or even trading back into the second round. Nonetheless, he projects as a player that would make their defense better.