A Little Support For Packers MD Jennings

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With the departure of former starting safety Charlie Peprah, who was released in a very similar manner to former inside linebacker Brandon Chillar for failing his physical at the start of training camp in 2010, all eyes now look towards Charles Woodson, MD Jennings and Jerron McMillian to see which ends up being the starting safety opposite Morgan Burnett.

Only a couple of problems; Woodson is desperately needed at the line of scrimmage as the slot cornerback, Jerron McMillian is a 4th round rookie who naturally shouldn’t be counted on to step in as a starting safety and actually produce and MD Jennings, who despite being a “football nerd” and making it as a undrafted rookie free agent last year “is too small and short and looks like a cornerback instead of a safety” as paraphrased by Bill Johnson during Green and Gold Today on July 25th, 2012.

Is “the doctor” really too short and too small to be a safety with the Green Bay Packers?  I think the prototypical “safety” Bill Johnson is thinking of would be someone like Taylor Mays (who despite being a physical specimen apparently isn’t a half decent safety) who stands at 6’3” weighs 230lbs.  To figure this out, I’ve compiled a list of the Packers starting safeties from the last decade as according to Pro Football Reference.



Height (inches)

Weight (lbs)

Aaron Rouse



Antuan Edwards



Atari Bigby



Charlie Peprah



Darren Sharper



LeRoy Butler



Mark Roman



Marquad Manuel



Marques Anderson



Morgan Burnett



Nick Collins










Where does MD Jennings fit onto this list?  Jennings is 6’0” (or 72 inches) and purportedly weighs in somewhere between 197 and 200 lbs as of the start of training camp.  So realistically, Jennings fits almost perfectly in the mold of a Packers safety when looking only at height and weight.  Jennings is essentially right in the middle of the group when it comes to height and actually it would appear that the current Packers front office prefer safeties who are on the shorter side (Nick Collins was 5’11”) and if Jennings truly is at 200 lbs, he would only need to gain a pound or two to get within 1 standard deviation of the average weight of a Packers starting safety (it should be noted that LeRoy Butler, perhaps one of the best to ever play the position for the Packers only weighed 197lbs).  Finally, Eric Berry, who was drafted with the 5th overall pick in 2010 by the Kansas City Chiefs (the highest safety chosen in 6 years) and made it to a Pro Bowl in his first year is only 6’0” and 211lbs.

So really, MD Jennings can physically play safety and if he gains 5-10 pounds between now and the start of the season (which is quite possible with NFL-caliber training staffs) he could be defined as an “average safety” in terms of his physical appearance.  In the Packers system safeties are asked to be more rovers in the backfield rather that hard-hitting box safeties, it would seem more useful to be faster and more agile to defend the pass rather than be strong and stout to defend against the run and the Packers choice of safeties reflects that preference.  Of course I would argue now that the evolution of the safety position now requires them to be at least taller; with the explosion of “receiving tight ends” such as Jermichael Finley or Jimmy Graham, safeties are going need to be able to defend against big and fast tight ends.

Either way, MD Jennings looks like a safety.



Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.


25 thoughts on “A Little Support For Packers MD Jennings

  1. I think the issue here is not so much the height, but the weight. I read somewhere that his playing weight in college was 160, he was listed at 187 for the whole first year. That would definitely indicate that he’s too small to play Safety. If he can get to 205 or even 210, I think that’s perfectly fine, especially in Green Bays system, where the Safeties are somewhat like Corners anyways. 200 would be enough, IMO, too but that’d still mean that he put on 40 lbs since playing in college and who knows what other effects that might have..

    1. I don’t think that’s all too unreasonable. For one, Jennings was probably 18 when he started college, and that’s definitely a period where your body is still growing (not as fast as puberty but still), so Jennings could definitely put on 10 lbs of muscle per year and be fine.

  2. He’s put on 20 pounds of muscle since being drafted. We knew he was a project (similar to one Mr. Nick Collins) when TT took him.

    He should be ok this year next to Wood. Next year is his time to shine.

    Only the most rare (CM3) Probowl players come into the NFL ready to play in their first year – and even those 1 in a million guys are MUCH better by their third year.

    1. My presumption is that if Jennings is out there, he’s going to be with Burnett with Woodson in the slot as opposed to Burnett in the slot or on the bench.

  3. Must admit I was suprised when we cut Peprah despite the fact that he didn’t really have the athleticism that we ideally need from a safety. Showed a lot of faith in a very young safety group.

    Both Burnett and Woodson should be able come up in run support and play close to the LOS so it’s the coverage skills and reading of the game that we need to see from Jennings. In my (very) humble opinion anyway..

    1. Burnett was drafted as more of a ball-hawking safety, so I’m not sure coming down in run support is really the best use of his abilities.

      1. I wasn’t trying to say that’s all you’d use him (or Woodson) for but he is certainly capable of it if required from what I’ve seen ?

        Found it interesting that McMillian was taking snaps as a slot corner by some accounts. Given that his strength pre draft was seen as a run support safety with good athletic potential perhaps they see him as a possible back up/replacement for Woodson. Or maybe I’m reading too much and they are just trying to get him experience wherever..

        Should be fascinating watching our secondary this year anyway..

      2. Thomas,
        I can’t say how the Packers viewed Burnett as an NFL player- he’s certainly got the athleticism to be a ball hawk and he played Rover in college- but he was also one of the leading tacklers on his team each year as well, and a lot of those tackles came in run support.

        Again, I don’t know what the war room consensus was on how Burnett projected to the pros when they drafted him, but his game tape showed a rangy, ball hawking safety that was excellent in run support.

  4. Only 3 of the 11 listed as acceptable size could play (Butler – Sharper – Collins). Rouse, Edwards, Roman, Manuel, and Anderson were “busts”, Bigby was a “one year wonder” and Peprah was in Bush’s class as a special teamer/backup that had to start due to injury. Roman is a reminder of the worst GM in team history (Sherman), he traded good picks to the Bengals for him, Naives, and Luchey and all were “busts” but started them just to save face like keeping the second kicker drafted high on the roster for a year. Thompson cannot get enough credit for building roster depth after Sherman destroyed it.

    1. Sherman was bad, but not the ‘worst GM the team has ever seen.’

      I, for one, remember the 80’s. My dad remembers the 70’s. My grandfather remembers the 50’s. Those were some incompetent men.

    2. Absolutely agree Lou. Sherman was a horrible GM(decent coach). Not only did he bring in terrible players but he trashed the teams salary-cap structure in the process. His successes you could count on one hand(Walker, Wells, Barnett). And then he acted like a prissy during his final year, after TT took over as GM(many times he would ignore Ted as he was talking to him).

      We think about what a great job TT has done now with all the talent on the roster, but the best job he did was reconstructing the organization after the mess Sherman left him with.

      Sherman should have been fired and executed for the B.J. Sanders deal alone.

    3. I wasn’t really indicting Sherman in terms of his ability as a GM, but I think your idea of acceptable size for a safety is different from a Packers GM perspective of a safety. Going on what you said, 8 of 11 starting safeties are on the smaller side, and that’s probably just not by coincidence. Also Collins and Butler weren’t all that tall either.

  5. I don’t care if he weighs 105 pounds, if he can hit like Chuck Cecil or Murphy, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be 300 pounds to knock someone on their azz..

    1. Well I would care if he weight 105 pounds because maybe he can hit solidly once, but you need mass to tackle consistently. There is a reason why defensive linemen are bigger than linebackers who are bigger than defensive backs.

  6. Can he cover? Can he tackle? If so, he can compete for the job. Who ever is the best stays. I’ll be watching the last cut.

    1. Agreed, the only point I was making is that Jennings looks like a Packers safety.

  7. I think it’d be great if the Packers could find “the next Nick Collins” but at this point “better than Charlie Peprah” will do just fine.

    And even though moving Woodson to safety is probably the right call, I hope that Jennings and Hayward see a lot of action.

    Normally I’m a fan of the draft/develop strategy but the defense needs to be shaken up. It’d be good to get some of the young guys some real experience, trial-by-fire style.

    What’s the worst that could happen, put more pressure on the virtually unstoppable offense? That happened plenty last year.

    At least give the 2’s some major minutes against schlub teams like the Colts, Cards, and Rams this season…

    1. The only important thing is winning, so if it takes your starters playing the entire time so be it. One schlub team, the Rams, somehow managed to beat the Saints last year, so anything can happen.

  8. I don’t believe for a second that LeRoy was 6′ tall.

    .. I also don’t believe it’s likely- I won’t say it’s impossible, but I want to- but it’s not likely a professional athlete can put on 5-10 pounds of muscle during training camp. People who can bulk up that much lean muscle mass that quickly are usually either weight training for the first time, strictly power lifting and packing in the calories, or juicing. Guys who are in camp are usually already relatively lean professional athletes that have been training their entire lives. That’s a lot of muscle to pack on in the course of camp.

    1. As far as I can tell, Butler is 6′ tall, if you can show me proof that he isn’t I’ll happily change the statistics.

      Also I think gaining 5-10 lbs is reasonable for a professional athlete. Training camp is about a month long, so he only needs to gain around 1 pound a week to gain 5 pounds.

      1. my comment about butler’s height is not a slight of your reporting or fact gathering, it was meant as a commentary about the accuracy of NFL team’s roster claims, like Gilbert Brown only being listed at 335 lbs at one point when he was clearly about 30 or so pounds larger than anyone on the field. Having seen Butler stand next to various other athletes, I would be shocked if he was actually 6′ tall.

        As far as the muscle mass, it sounds easy to gain a pound of lean muscle a week, doesn’t it? I could probably do it because my regular diet is garbage and I don’t exercise like I used to. My system would easily be shocked by eating right and exercising. I could dedicate my energy to a work out designed strictly for building muscle, and getting the sleep I need to repair. Growth would be rapid.. For a while.

        Putting on lean mass is not a constant upward shot, you plateau. Hard work will get you results to a point. Genetics are key. Exhaustion, caloric consumption and burning, and recovering from contusions and such all have an effect on a players’ body’s ability to repair and produce muscle. The offseason is where players focus on building their bodies to get ready for camp and the season ahead- all their energy can be directed at building up (or burning off, in the case of some players). The emphasis come camp is playbook, scheme, timing, and getting the body used to exhaustion and the wear and tear of collision.

        As DH13 mentions, Players struggle to maintain weight from this point forward. It is a physical grind, and most players (who aren’t massive d linemen, at any rate) have now begun a cycle that will see their bodies deteriorate to the point that they will often be 10 or more pounds lighter by week 12 than they are right now.

  9. Actually, guys usually drop some weight by the end of training camp, and then over the course of the season so I don’t see MDJ getting any bigger this year. Also, no matter what his stats are if you see him next to Burnett, Woodson and Tramon you’ll see how “slight” he looks for a S. Doesn’t mean he can’t play effectively but he is on the small side.

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