Jauan Jennings’ redshirt senior season was an outstanding one for Tennessee. The Murfreesboro, TN native led the Vols in receptions (59), receiving yards (969), and receiving touchdowns (8) to cap off an impressive UT career. Not only that, but Jennings led the entire FBS in broken tackles by a wide receiver, breaking through 30 tackles in one season.
Despite that impressive performance on the field and other solid showings throughout his career, some still had doubts about the UT receiver after a lackluster performance at the 2020 NFL Combine.
The 6-foot-3, 218-pound wideout made his name on the football field as a physical presence who was rarely brought down on first contact. But Jennings’ physicality didn’t translate as well to the speed and agility drills at the NFL Combine.
Jennings ran just a 4.72-second 40-yard dash and had just a 29-inch vertical leap at this year’s combine. His 40-time was the second-slowest among the receivers at this year’s combine, and his vertical leap was also the second-worst among all the wideouts in attendance. Jennings’ 119-inch broad jump wasn’t exactly impressive, either.
And unfortunately for Jennings, he didn’t get a chance to improve on those numbers at Tennessee’s Pro Day.
Because of the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, Pro Days across the country were canceled, and UT was no exception. That didn’t give Jennings or any of Tennessee’s other 2020 NFL Draft hopefuls a chance to improve on their combine numbers or show off some other skills in front of NFL scouts.
But as Vol fans know — and fans of several SEC schools know — Jennings’ ability as a receiver goes beyond what the combine can measure. And a prominent voice in the NFL draft community believes that too.
Jim Nagy is the Executive Director for the Reese’s Senior Bowl and is an NFL draft analyst for ESPN. Nagy also served as an NFL analyst for nearly two decades. He knows a thing or two about what it takes to play in the league, and he’s not worried about Jennings’ test numbers.
“Don’t care about Jauan Jennings’ 40 time,” Nagy wrote in a tweet on Monday. “Or any other combine numbers for that matter. There’s always outliers, and Jennings is an outlier. It’ll be fun watching how many WRs drafted ahead of him that he out-plays at the next level.”
Don’t care about @Vol_Football WR Jauan Jennings’ 40 time. Or any other Combine numbers for that matter. There’s always outliers and Jennings is an outlier. It’ll be fun watching how many WRs drafted ahead of him that he out-plays at the next level.#TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/39BknG4n3z
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) April 13, 2020
Nagy got to see Jennings up-close-and-personal at this year’s Senior Bowl. Jennings participated in the pre-bowl drills and played in the game itself, catching a touchdown and finishing with three receptions for 22 yards and a score in the game.
Nagy has seen plenty of receivers in his day, and he feels confident that Jennings is better than what any testing numbers would indicate.
Though Jennings’ numbers at the NFL Combine weren’t impressive, what he did on the field and does in actual football practices stands out much more, and the results from his playing days speak for themselves.
In his Tennessee career, Jennings caught 146 passes for 2,153 yards and 18 touchdowns. He finished his career with the fifth-most catches in school history, the fourth-most receiving yards, and tied with Justin Hunter, Denarius Moore, and Cory Fleming for the fifth-most receiving touchdowns. His six games of 100-plus receiving yards is tied with five other Vols for the eighth-most in school history in a career.
The 2020 NFL Draft will begin on April 23rd and will run through April 25th. The first round will be on Thursday, April 23rd, the second and third rounds on Friday the 24th, and the fourth through seventh rounds on the 25th.