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Sophomore Expectations: M.D. Jennings

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Jennings hopes to earn a starting position so he can keep Charlie Peprah from looking silly like this. Also, insert your own Jarrett Bush joke here.
Jennings hopes to earn a starting position so he can keep Charlie Peprah from looking silly like this. Also, insert your own Jarrett Bush joke here.

It's time for round three of our look at 2nd and 3rd year Packers. Last up was cornerback Davon House, but today we examine safety M.D. Jennings.

Despite starting for three years at Arkansas State (which is an FBS school, for the record), Melvin Delaney Jennings went undrafted, joining the Packers as a free agent after the lockout of 2011 ended in late July. He earned a spot on the 53-man roster out of training camp as a depth safety and special teamer, and maintained that job through the 2011 season. He received only ten snaps at safety all season, with Charlie Peprah taking over for the injured Nick Collins, but saw action in 15 games.

The scouting report on Jennings shows him to be a good athlete, running the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds, but his size limited his draft stock. His strength is in coverage rather than run support, and would likely be used best when he can patrol center field in a deep zone. He's talented, but he needs his preparation and understanding of the NFL game to catch up to his speed and ball skills.

Jennings' depth chart position in 2011 - No. 3 safety (after Collins' injury)

Jennings' floor depth chart position in 2012 - No. 4 safety
It seems nearly impossible that Jennings would be left off the roster after camp, as he's earned valuable reps with the number 1 defense in minicamp and OTAs and has performed well. The only way he drops this far is if Anthony Levine or rookie Jerron McMillian outplay him in training camp.

Jennings' ceiling depth chart position in 2012 - Starting safety
As mentioned above, Jennings is getting reps with the ones. If Peprah's injury continues to bother him into training camp and if Jennings' football IQ starts catching up to his physical skills, he could supplant Peprah as the starter opposite Morgan Burnett.

Jennings' stats in 2011 - 15 games, 9 total tackles, 0 passes defended, 0 INT

Jennings' floor stats in 2012 (assuming he's healthy) - 15 tackles, 1 pass defended, 0 INT
If Jennings slips behind Levine or McMillian in the safety rotation, he'll probably still see some snaps on defense due to injuries and giving other players the occasional off snap. Most of those tackles would likely be on special teams in this situation.

Jennings' ceiling stats in 2012 - 90 tackles, 12 passes defended, 5 INTs
If he earns a starting job, he could make a name for himself as a ball-hawking safety. This line would put him about on par with Peprah's stats in 2011. Containing the big plays is something Peprah did not do last season, however, and is an area where Jennings would have room to improve upon Charlie's performance.

Projected stats for Jennings in 2012 - 50 tackles, 8 passes defended, 2 INTs
I see Jennings and Peprah splitting time as the second starting safety this season, with Charles Woodson stealing some snaps as the Corner Okie package becomes more prevalent. As such, I think Jennings will have opportunities to drop back in coverage and make plays on the ball, but not as many as if he were a full-time starter. Just call it a hunch that his talent will get him on the field, but that his youth and inexperience will make Capers hesitant to turn over the reins to him entirely this season.

One final thing: can I please get some people on board to get M.D. Jennings nicknamed "The Doctor"?