Selecting a center in the NFL Draft is never a flashy pick. Often disregarded as a non-premium position in football circles, interior offensive lineman are rarely given the credit they deserve for an offense’s success.
Offensive lineman are seen as solid, safe picks in early rounds of drafts. (Derek Sherrod wasn’t) Mostly because those who are chosen early demonstrate sound technique and coachability, allowing teams to see them as a stalwart at their positions for the next decade. The unheralded big hogs of the offensive line are overlooked and underappreciated on the field. You’ve heard it a thousand times, “football games are won and lost in the trenches.” Elgton Jenkins helps the Packers win that war.
Time and time again the Packers guards were simply over matched last year. The interior offensive line, barring Corey Linsley, was an absolute disaster in pass protection in 2018. These concerns were exacerbated by Aaron Rodgers injury and inability to escape pressure in the pocket like his usual self. Instant interior pressure is a quarterback’s worst nightmare in the NFL, and it has come back to haunt the Packers the past two years.
In 2014, the Green Bay Packers had Pro Football Focus’ number three and four guards, number five centre and number four right tackle. David Bahktiari was their number fourteen left tackle. Aaron Rodgers won his second MVP, completing 65% of his passes for 4381 yards and 38 touchdowns. Most importantly, he was sacked on only 5.1% of drop backs, the lowest rate of his career. If not for some horrible play by rookie safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, and an all-time gaffe by Brandon Bostick, the 2014 Packers would’ve been a Superbowl team. The job of General Manager Brian Gutekunst is to get them back there.
Rebuilding the offensive line is a crucial task, as there has been a revolving door at the guard position the past few years. Lane Taylor was below average in 2018, and let’s not even bring up the pylon that was Byron Bell. Elgton Jenkins is a significant upgrade, who will be crucial to the Packers success in 2019.
As the video from @BR_NFL shows, Jenkins uses a fantastic base to anchor against power rushers, and has the strength to win on every down. He displaces nosetackles with ease and opens up holes right, left ,and center for his running backs. He will come into the league with advanced hand technique that should only improve at the next level. Jenkins displays the crucial ability to tilt and turn defenders, dictating where he wants the battle to take place. Number 74 is a smooth operator in space, a vital trait in Matt Lafleur’s offense. He often climbs to the second level, destroying linebackers and defensive backs while on the move.
Along with all of those impressive qualities, Jenkins football IQ may be his most impressive trait. The native of Clarksdale, Mississippi spent time at both tackle spots and guard for the Bulldogs, finally settling in at center. His awareness is off the charts, as he is alert on every down and always looking for someone to hit. He is brutally effective while pulling and showed the athleticism to get out in front of screen plays, creating extra yards on every down. The Packers haven’t had a player like Jenkins at guard since T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton left in free agency. As the outpouring of love from Green Bay suggests, since both retired this off-season, their presence is sorely missed.
Many fans of the Packers were in an uproar when Jenkins was announced as the pick at 44. With A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf still on the board, how could Green Bay look anywhere else? Luckily, the powers that be made the intelligent decision to beef up the offensive line. Realizing that Aaron Rodgers is the franchise, and protecting him is still the top priority. Elgton Jenkins will be an absolute joy to watch in green and gold, and his presence will be felt the most of any Packers rookie in 2019.Nick is a lifelong Packers fan. 4th and 26 was on his 13th birthday, unlucky. Follow him @CANDRAFTGEEK647 on Twitter for all your Packers draft needs and questions.