ESPN Insider: the film on Greg Jennings
http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/ ... g-jennings
Here's what the film showed me on Jennings, broken down into traits that teams will consider:
Body control: Can still adjust to the ball with ease. Think of the back-shoulder fade up the sideline (plus the red zone) or the inside vertical seam with a defensive back playing in a trail-man position (low to the inside hip). Jennings can find the ball and finish at the point of attack. An older receiver might lose burst, but Jennings still maintains great control.
Route running: Still one of the top route runners in the game. Jennings can push a cornerback up the field throughout the route stem and snap back downhill on the curl or comeback. It's veteran stuff and anticipation that you won't find in the draft no matter how high you grade a rookie prospect. It is a skill to run through the break of the deep dig or create separation at the top of the stem. And that also applies to double-moves. The ability to chop the feet, sell the route and then get vertical is how you win. Jennings knows all the tricks.
Ability versus press: Every receiver is going to take a jam to the throat every now and then. Remember, those guys on defense get paid too. However, I like Jennings' ability to win with lateral movement at the line. Get the corner to "open the gate" (open the hips), fall back on his heels or overextend on the initial jam. The idea is to expose technique flaws in the defense.
Production after the catch: There is a reason Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was so quick to throw the "sight adjust" or "Smoke" route (quick, one-step hitch) when reading Jennings versus off-man coverage (think Cover 1 or Cover 3 alignment). The wideout is smooth in the open field, and he can set up a defender and take advantage of poor angles to the ball. That's why you throw the underneath crosser or hit Jennings on the slant. His ability after the catch can turn a simple route into an explosive play.
Lack of vertical threat: Can Jennings put stress on the top of the secondary? Unlike Wallace, who has elite deep-ball speed, Jennings isn't a consistent threat in the vertical game. Outside of running the inside seam and the fade against press (ball thrown at 20-25 yards), Jennings is best-suited running routes that break from 12-15 yards.
Burst/Explosion: Watching the tape, there are times when I question if that burst out of his cuts and the redirect to get vertical up the field are starting to slow down a bit. It's pretty tough to gauge the explosion in his legs after the injury last season -- was he at 100 percent when he got back? -- but it has to be discussed.
Game-plan perspective: I always look at the wide receiver position from a defensive game-plan perspective. Is Jennings still a player who has to be accounted for on Sundays? Based on the tape, no question. And he will impact how opposing secondaries set their game plans and matchups. Defenses will have to scheme to take Jennings out of the route concept in crucial situations.
What is Jennings' market value?
We have to understand that the talent pool surrounding Jennings in Green Bay isn't part of the deal, and Jennings can't bring Rodgers with him. Add in his age, plus durability concerns, and I would be willing to pay an average of $6 million to $8 million per season to scoop up Jennings this offseason. You don't guarantee a bunch of years, but you have pretty good expectations about the next few years.
From my perspective, that's a smart deal for a No. 1 guy who is more of an intermediate threat in the playbook as he enters the later stages of his career. Jennings can still play and still produce. But he isn't a 25-year-old receiver in his prime who can consistently flip the field and put stress on the league's top corners in the vertical passing game.