GREEN BAY, Wis. – Once he’s healthy, will Elgton Jenkins return to guard, where he won Pro Bowl honors last season, or will he move to offensive tackle, where he thrived last season?
Wherever he lines up once he’s beyond a torn ACL, the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line will be instantly better.
In a story picking the most underrated player for each team in the NFC, Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr picked Jenkins.
Orr took an interesting path in outlining his reasoning, picking a sack he allowed in a hard-fought victory over Seattle.
“If that is his only negative check mark from starter’s snaps at a key position, I think he can consider that game, and his 2022 season, a success,” Orr wrote. “The Packers have an assembly line for good offensive line talent, so the fact that Jenkins will be an above-average starter this year is not a surprise. He appears to get to the second level so quickly, which, when you’re running outside zone or relying on a quick, cerebral passing game to pick up easy first downs, is essential for netting additional yardage.”
A Pro Bowl guard in 2020, Jenkins moved to left tackle in 2021 to replace injured David Bakhtiari. He was tremendous in eight games before suffering a torn ACL on Nov. 21 at Minnesota.
Of the 67 offensive tackles to play at least his 496 snaps, Jenkins ranked 16th in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency, which measures sacks, hits and hurries per pass-protecting snap. Sports Info Solutions charged him with zero blown blocks in the run game. (A blown block is defined as any time a blocker does not successfully block the defender he attempted to engage with and gave the defender an opportunity to negatively affect the play). Of every lineman in the NFL who played at least Jenkins’ 176 snaps as a run blocker, he was the only one with a blown-block rate of 0.0 percent.
Given the timing of the injury, Jenkins might not be in the Week 1 lineup. The plight of Bakhtiari last year shows that nothing is guaranteed in the world of ACL comebacks. With Jenkins entering his final season under contract and given his importance on the team, he will not be rushed back into action.
“Right now, for six months out, I’m feeling real good,” Jenkins said recently. “I’m running, doing different things, so I’m feeling good.”
A center at Mississippi State, Jenkins is the rare offensive lineman capable of playing all five positions at a high level.
If he were the coach, where would he line himself up at?
“I’d play quarterback,” Jenkins said in 2020. “Just knowing defenses and stuff like that, with the arm I’ve got, I feel like I could sling it around, break a couple records.”
Of course, the Packers have a pretty decent quarterback. And Jenkins is pretty decent at protecting that quarterback. Jenkins was so good last season that it was easy to forget that left tackle had not been his primary position. Assuming Bakhtiari returns to action and returns to form, Jenkins could end up at right tackle when he returns.
“I really have a lot of respect for Elgton. I think he’s a great player,” Bakhtiari said last year. “I think he has even more to give, even more than I think he even knows. And I’ve told him this and I’ll tell you guys that my goal is to make sure he can become the best Elgton Jenkins he can be. His versatility is something very unique and special, and the more that he continues to be the best Elgton he can be, he can be something special. Every day, I just kind of add little tidbits. I’ll tell him certain things that I knew to help speed him up so he doesn’t have to wait the six weeks until he experiences it. ‘You’re probably going to experience this, so I want you to attack it.’”