Fixing the offensive line appears be the top priority of new Bears GM Ryan Poles, and rightfully so. The Bears have underwhelmed in that department for years and have as much of a reason as any team in the NFL to get it right as soon as possible (protect Justin Fields!). Fortunately, with Combine Week, which is loaded with offensive linemen, already here and free agency on the horizon (Brian Allen, anyone?), now is a pretty good time to be building an offensive line.
And yet, I don’t want to look past what the Bears already have on the roster; especially when it comes to 2021 second rounder Teven Jenkins, who’s celebrating his 24th birthday … today! A birthday that nudged me to take a trip down memory lane:
— Sky Kruse (@KruseSports_) December 21, 2021
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 30, 2021
Teven Jenkins is a junkyard dog, really physical in the run game.
He was also dominant in pass protection against some really good pass-rushers (e.g. Joseph Ossai).
— Austin Gayle (@austingayle_) March 3, 2021
Studying Oklahoma St OT Teven Jenkins. Big fan of his effort/power to finish! pic.twitter.com/1PUH1z0dF7
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) November 11, 2020
Poles made it clear that he did not like what he saw from the Bears offensive line last year, and he’s not alone in that respect. But he also knows the group is not without upside, and it’s not difficult to guess about whom he’s talking: “I think there’s some young talent that needs to be pressed,” Poles said on Tuesday, via The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain. “That’s part our our job is to create competition and bring the best out of them. We’ll do that and we’ll see if the cream rises to the top. Especially with the O-line play a lot of times — and I don’t want to speak for the coaches — but it’s gonna end up being the best five to roll out there.”
Poles didn’t name names. But I can’t help but think that Jenkins is one of those offensive linemen Poles thinks highly of going into this upcoming season. At a minimum, Jenkins has the mold of a player Poles might have faith in moving forward. After all, you gotta love the physicality.
Remember, Jenkins was a highly sought-after draft prospect at this time last year. ESPN, Pro Football Network, and The Draft Network each had Jenkins as a top-4 offensive tackle prospect. And Pro Football Focus had him sixth. Jenkins’ NFL.com draft profile described him as “an intolerant run blocker, looking to finish and bury his opponent” which is one heckuva one-liner. For a fuller scope of Jenkins as a prospect, you’ll want to re-visit our pre-draft profile right here.
In the end, Jenkins is still a work in progress. He played in just six games during his rookie season because of preseason back surgery. And when Jenkins did play, he did so with limitations. Jenkins made just two starts and was in on just 161 offensive snaps. That isn’t what anyone was envisioning when Ryan Pace slid up the draft board to take Jenkins in the second round. Nevertheless, Jenkins will have a clean slate this season. A new head coach, offensive coordinator, and position coach will get hands on the big Oklahoma State product. If things go well, Jenkins can live up to the lofty expectations he came to Chicago with last season.
I still believe in his upside. Depending on how Poles addresses needs along the offensive line, we’ll see if the general manager feels similarly about Jenkins.