In 2020, the Green Bay Packers had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. At the center of it was offensive line coach Adam Stenavich, as he oversaw one of the Packers top overall lines in a very long time. Yes, he did a fantastic job, but he was also blessed with the talent he was working with. However, he will be challenged in 2021. Injuries and losing starting center Corey Linsley in free agency will force Stenavich to make some changes. Among those changes may include Elgton Jenkins possibly starting off as the Packers right tackle in 2021.
Elgton Jenkins Set Up to Play Tackle to Start 2021
In the past two NFL drafts, general manager Brian Gutekunst has selected six offensive linemen. Yet, out of those six offensive linemen selected, none of them are projected to play offensive tackle in the NFL.
Last year, the Packers selected Jon Runyan Jr. in the sixth round. A tackle at the University of Michigan, Runyan was converted to guard by the Packers. He saw some spot-duty last season played solidly. In this year’s draft, the Packers selected two offensive linemen, both of whom played some tackle in college.
Royce Newman, University of Mississippi, and Cole Van Lanen, University of Wisconsin, both spent some time at tackle in college. At the same time, it is doubtful that either of them will play tackle in the NFL. The Packers lack depth at offensive tackle, which makes the decision not to select a pure tackle in 2020 and 2021 a curious decision.
While it was curious, Gutekunst does have a wild card in his back pocket. Elgton Jenkins provides Stenavich and Gutekunst the security blanket the Packers offensive line will need to start 2021.
Offensive Tackle Nothing New for Elgton Jenkins
This past season saw starting left tackle David Bakhtiari suffered a late season-ending injury. Early reports are positive for Bakhtiari’s recovery. Still, it is too early to tell when he will return in 2021.
When Bakhtiari was lost, starting right tackle Billy Turner shifted to the left side. Veteran tackle Rick Wagner stepped in for Turner on the right side. But the Packers won’t have the luxury of having Wagner in 2021, as he was cut this off-season.
With Wagner departed, and the Packers not addressing the offensive tackle position this off-season, that leaves Elgton Jenkins as their top option.
The guard made the Pro Bowl in 2020, despite playing multiple positions over the course of the season. When Baktiari went down, Jenkins shifted from left guard to right tackle. Jenkins, the Packers most athletic lineman, adjusted well to the shift. In fact, it led many to believe he can be the long-term answer at right tackle.
With Bakhtiari’s return timeline unknown, Jenkins once again could get the call at right tackle. It goes without saying the move will hurt their interior line. Nevertheless, the Packers have the depth to get by the shift in the short term.
Jenkins played tackle, guard, and center in 2020. He was a standout guard and more than held his own at center and tackle. It can be argued that Jenkins is a better option than any tackle prospect Gutekunst could have selected this year.
An Argument to have Jenkins on the Left Side
During his time at North Dakota State, Billy Turner was a standout left tackle. Throughout his NFL career, he has seen time at his college position. Except for his performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC championship game, Turner performed well.
While he held his own, there isn’t much doubt that he would be better off on the right side. Before he was shifted to the left side, Turner was playing at a high level on the right side. The Packers offensive line would be better off with Turner as the starting right tackle.
So, the question would be, why not play Elgton Jenkins at left tackle? No disrespect to Bakhtiari, who has been the Packers best tackle for a long time, but Jenkins has arguably the highest ceiling among Packers lineman. His athleticism should project well to playing left tackle. Betting against Jenkins playing left tackle at a high level would be a fool’s bet.
If Jenkins were to show the same type of play at left tackle as he did right tackle, it would provide the Packers with a player who can step in if Bakhtiari were to be injured again.
Don’t sleep on Elgton Jenkins being the starting left tackle for the start of 2021. The former second-round draft choice has shown he is the type of lineman that NFL teams can only dream of. Left tackle might be the next position he conquers in his young career.
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