On the one hand, it is, of course, a good thing that Chicago chose Teven Jenkins, a tackle with a first-round grade, in Round 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft (bonus points for snagging one who could play both sides of the line). But on the other hand, it’s worth noting that Bears GM Ryan Pace didn’t try to put Jenkins in one spot or the other, explaining instead that he found value in Jenkins ability to play both right and left tackle.
And now, we have a better understanding why.
Earlier today, the Bears released Charles Leno Jr., designating him as a post-June 1 cut in a move that creates $9 million in salary cap space. But, perhaps more importantly for the 2021 Bears, it opens a hole on the quarterback’s blindside. One that seems likely to be filled by Jenkins.
“Teven Jenkins was a player, some teams thought was a right tackle, the Bears believe he is a left tackle,” NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport said while assessing Chicago’s move to cut Leno. “So they’re ready to install him in there right now as their starting left tackle for the future.”
All of this coming together as quickly as it did leaves me with a few thoughts. For starters, the Bears must be comfortable in moving on from Leno and potentially starting someone with no NFL experience at the position. Let’s take it a step further. Chicago might be comfortable enough with the idea of starting *TWO* rookies on the offensive line. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities that Larry Borom could start on the right side of the line — either at tackle or guard — when the season begins. As things stand now, the Bears have six offensive linemen with significant starting experience. That’s good from a depth perspective. As is the fact that the team added two rookies who also want to crack the starting lineup.
And let’s hold open the possibility of a stray free agent signing at some point this spring or summer. Eric Fisher, Russell Okung, Alejandro Villanueva, and Ricky Wagner are among the notable free agent tackles. Fisher and Okung are the most experienced with the most upside. And therefore, most intriguing in my eyes.
Clearly, there’s lots to sort through here. Bring on the competition!