Green Bay Packers: Is Elgton Jenkins the Long-Term Answer at RT?

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 06: Elgton Jenkins #74 of the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 06: Elgton Jenkins #74 of the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

For the last two drafts now, I’ve almost expected the Green Bay Packers to spend an early-round pick on the offensive tackle position. Bryan Bulaga left in free agency last offseason, and we don’t know Billy Turner’s future beyond the 2021 season.

However, as we all know, that hasn’t happened. In 2020 the Packers would not draft a tackle, and while they took two in this most recent draft, many believe that both Royce Newman and Cole Van Lanen are better guards than tackles at the NFL level—only time will tell.

So when we look at this deep Green Bay Packers offensive line unit, while there are plenty of options, when it comes to who the right tackle of the future might be, that isn’t so obvious. But the answer to that question might have been right in front of us all along in Elgton Jenkins.

Just because a team doesn’t draft a position doesn’t mean that it isn’t on their radar or that they are ignoring it—there are a lot of factors involved. Perhaps the right player wasn’t available early on, or the value just wasn’t there. So this could be one explanation as to why the Packers haven’t spent an early-round pick on an offensive tackle.

With that said, it’s an obvious need as early as 2022 potentially and a premier position in the NFL. It’s one thing to miss out on an inside linebacker but it’s another to fail to address one of the more important positions in the game.

Oftentimes what a team doesn’t do in free agency or the draft can be just as telling as what they end up doing. And in the Green Bay Packers’ case, these last two draft cycles show us that they are completely comfortable with Jenkins at right tackle in 2022.

Jenkins has primarily been the Packers’ left guard and because of that, he has minimal tackle experience in the NFL, taking 29 total snaps at left tackle and 33 snaps at right tackle, with a bulk of those snaps coming in 2020. He has allowed no sacks and no pressures during that span, according to PFF ($$).

Although his experience is limited, Jenkins does possess the physical and mental attributes to be successful at the position. He’s athletic enough to handle speed rushers off the edge, with his 34-inch arms, Jenkins has the length, and as we’ve seen on numerous occasions at guard, he certainly has the strength to handle any bull-rushes. His ability to transition from one position to the next with such ease is truly remarkable.

Offensive line coach Adam Stenavich had this to say recently when asked about Jenkins playing at left tackle in David Bakhtiari’s absence:

"“He’s looked great,” said Stenavich via “He’s a rare guy in this league, a guy that has the athleticism to play on the edge. Usually you get your centers and guards, they don’t have that combination of length and athleticism to go out at tackle and compete with the good edge rushers out there, but Elgton has those tools. He has the size, he’s got the length, so he’s a very versatile guy, a very intelligent player. You can move him around and the game’s not too big for him. He understands everything. Extremely football smart. Moving him out to tackle, it might not be his absolute best position but he’s still a very, very good tackle."

If Jenkins is in fact the Green Bay Packers’ long-term answer at right tackle — long-term being 2022 and beyond — then the team has their core offensive line unit locked down for the foreseeable future. Bakhtiari is, of course, the left tackle, Josh Myers appears to be the future at center, and then battling for the two guard spots will be Jon Runyan, Ben Braden, Royce Newman, Cole Van Lanen, and Simon Stepaniak, along with anyone else that they may add in the coming offseasons.

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We don’t have any sort of confirmation that this is the Green Bay Packers’ plan, and the entire 2021 season still has to play out before any of these decisions have to be made. But if we try to read the tea leaves, then it looks like Jenkins could very well be the Packers’ right tackle of the future.