Packers Should Strongly Consider Elgton Jenkins at RT Upon Bakhtiari’s Return

Sep 12, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Green Bay Packers guard Elgton Jenkins (74) tackles New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams (43) along the sideline during the third quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Green Bay Packers guard Elgton Jenkins (74) tackles New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams (43) along the sideline during the third quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

In most instances, when an NFL team loses their All-Pro left tackle, who is widely considered by many the best in football, there is going to be some valid concerns about keeping the quarterback clean. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case if you’re the Green Bay Packers.

Green Bay is without David Bakhtiari for at least the first six weeks of the season, as he is on the PUP list. So filling in for him is the do-it-all, Elgton Jenkins.

Jenkins entered Sunday’s game with only 29 career snaps at left tackle, according to PFF ($$), but you’d never know that by the way he played. While a majority of this Green Bay Packers team looked lethargic, Jenkins came to play, and he played very, very well.

Week 1 against New Orleans, Jenkins was at left tackle for 41 pass-blocking reps, per PFF, and he didn’t allow a single sack and was credited with only one total pressure. Not to mention that, as we’ve seen at guard, he was a force in the run game as well.

While PFF’s grading system is not the be-all-end-all when it comes to judging a player’s performance, when a player performs really well or really poorly, it is a helpful tool for illustrating just that. For Jenkins, he was the second-highest graded tackle in all of football Week 1–not bad for his debut at left tackle.

"“He’s a rare guy in this league, a guy that has the athleticism to play on the edge,” Offensive line coach Adam Stenavich said during training camp via Packers Wire. “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.”"

Jenkins will hold down the left tackle position for at the minimum another five games until Bakhtiari is able to return. But then the question becomes, what will the Packers do with Jenkins then?

There’s the obvious where they move him back to left guard, where he has spent a majority of his NFL career; however, there very well could be more value in moving him to right tackle instead.

Suggesting this isn’t so much a knock on Billy Turner, he was rock solid as the Packers’ right tackle all of 2020, and again, he held up well for the most part against New Orleans–although he did give up a sack.

Instead, this is a credit to Jenkins, who is the second-best tackle on this team behind only Bakhtiari. Moving Jenkins to right tackle would allow Green Bay to strengthen a key position and afford them the flexibility to move Turner back to guard, which would also bolster the interior of this offensive line.

And while Jenkins has only 33 career snaps at right tackle, and there is a difference between lining up on the left side of the offensive line versus the right, there is nothing to suggest that Jenkins wouldn’t continue to play at a high level. In fact, at this point, it’s just assumed.

When it comes to Turner at guard, he did have a down 2019 season here in Green Bay while at that position. He allowed 52 pressures that season at right guard compared to 30 in 2020 as the right tackle.

But given the stability that he provided at tackle last season — a more difficult position — I tend to think that 2019 was the outlier and that he would have much more success this time around if moved back inside.

With that said, if the Packers don’t feel that way, then open up the competition inside with Turner, Royce Newman, Lucas Patrick, and Jon Runyan all competing for those final two guard spots.

As Matt LaFleur has talked about often in the past, it’s about putting the best five offensive linemen on the field, and if that means making some changes week to week, we’ve seen that he’s not afraid to do that.

In an article that I wrote earlier this offseason, I discussed how it looked like Jenkins could be the Packers’ long-term answer at right tackle. Turner’s future beyond 2021 is unknown; the draft picks that they spent on college tackles may be better suited at guard in the NFL, and as I’ve already mentioned, Jenkins is the second-best offensive tackle on this team. If this ends up being the case, then why not make the move now?

This Green Bay Packers offense was the best in football last season, and one of the big reasons why was the play of this offensive line unit, which was one of the better groups in the NFL.

The performance of the Packers’ offensive line against New Orleans certainly wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t on the same level as what we saw last year—although, with two rookies, that should have been anticipated. However, it will have to be better.

Offensive tackle is a premiere position in this game, and if the Packers want their two best tackles lined up there at the same time, then Jenkins should slide over to right tackle when Bakhtiari returns.