When talking about NFL stars most fans won’t name an offensive lineman. In most cases, it is either a quarterback, running back, or wide receiver. Being an offensive lineman is a dirty job and even when they succeed, they don’t get the notoriety. In fact, a great way to tell if an offensive lineman is having a great game is when you don’t hear their name called. While offensive linemen don’t get the publicity, they are a crucial piece to having a good overall offense. For the Green Bay Packers, it appears they have a star in the making with offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins.
Elgton Jenkins Could Be a Star for Green Bay Packers
In January of 2018, Brian Gutekunst was chosen to replace longtime general manager Ted Thompson. To date, Gutekunst has been in charge of three draft classes for the Packers. While it will take a couple of years to judge his 2020 draft class, his 2018 and 2019 have brought uneven results.
Out of the 2018 class, cornerback Jaire Alexander and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling seem to be the best of the bunch. Alexander is progressing to being one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. In 2019, the Packers selected Darnell Savage with one of their two first round draft choices. Savage started 14 games as a rookie and appears he will be a starter for the Packers for a long time.
In that same draft class as Savage, the Packers used their second-round pick on Elgton Jenkins, a center out of Mississippi State. After selecting Savage and Rashan Gary with their two first-round picks, some Packers fans were hoping Gutekunst would take either a wide receiver or tight end with their second-round pick. Instead, he used it on a player who played a position they already had an entrenched starter at, Corey Linsley.
But it is a good thing that Gutekunst doesn’t listen to fans. There isn’t much doubt that Gutekunst and the Packers hope that 2020’s first-round draft choice, quarterback Jordan Love, turns out to be his best draft choice. But as of today, an argument can be made that Elgton Jenkins is the best pick Gutekunst has made.
Jenkins Strong Rookie Season
In his senior season at Mississippi State, Elgton Jenkins earned All American honors as a center. His success at center is what brought many to believe that he might push Linsley for his starting position. However, center wasn’t the only position Jenkins was capable of playing. During his time at Mississippi State, Jenkins saw time at guard as well as both tackle positions. He found some level of success at each of those positions.
His success in college carried over to his rookie season. Last season, Jenkins played in all 16 games, starting 14 of them. He split playing duties at left guard with Lane Taylor until he took over as the starter when Taylor fell to injury. He would go on to start the rest of the season at left guard.
Playing next to the Packers’ current best offensive lineman, David Bakhtiari, they formed one of the best tackle-guard combinations in the NFL. He was a major part of an offensive line that allowed running back Aaron Jones to rush for over 1,000 yards. He also helped protect the Packers franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Due to his play in 2019, Jenkins was voted to PFWA’s All Rookie team. He was also named to Pro Football Focus All Rookie team. PFF graded Jenkins out as the top rookie guard and also ranked him in the top 10 of left guards in the NFL. His showing in 2019 has the Packers believing they have one of the best young offensive linemen in the NFL.
Off to a Strong Start in 2020
The 2020 NFL season is just one game old, but Elgton Jenkins is already off to a strong start. In the Packers 43-34 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, not only did Jenkins shine, but he was also able to showcase his versatility.
Billy Turner was expected to start at right tackle for the season opener. But a knee injury forced Turner to miss the game. Ricky Wagner, who signed as a free agent this off-season, was another possible candidate to start for Turner. However, he was also dealing with an injury (elbow). So head coach Matt LaFleur turned to Jenkins to start at right tackle.
As stated earlier, Jenkins had experience playing at tackle at Mississippi State. While he hadn’t played tackle since 2015, he held his own playing the position against the Vikings. His time didn’t last for long though. Because of an injury to Lucas Patrick, who replaced Jenkins at left guard, Jenkins shifted back to left guard during the game.
At both right tackle and left guard, Jenkins’ play allowed the Packers offense to shine last Sunday. Jenkins was a key part of the Packers not allowing a sack and for Rodgers to throw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns in the victory.
With Jenkins playing, and succeeding, at right tackle he might have shown a glimpse at the Packers’ future right tackle. Wagner is only signed through 2021 and Turner has a contract that would allow for the Packers to move on after the season. Jenkins might be the long term answer at the position.
No matter if it is guard, tackle, or even center, it appears the Packers have a keeper. It also looks like they have a star in Elgton Jenkins.
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