Amongst all of the struggles that we saw from this Green Bay Packers offense last season, an underrated aspect was the poor play from the offensive line.
On the season, the offensive line unit would give up 53 total sacks, which tied for third most in the NFL and they allowed an average of 3.3 sacks per game, including a number of crushing sacks given up on third down.
Much of the pressure that Aaron Rodgers would face came from up the middle at both guard positions. At left guard was Lane Taylor who had a down year, and at right guard, was Byron Bell and Justin McCray who just aren’t starting caliber players at this point in their careers.
To remedy this issue, the Green Bay Packers would sign free agent Billy Turner to a four year, $28 million deal and he will take over at right guard this season.
Then in the draft, to the surprise of many, the Packers would select Elgton Jenkins from Mississippi State in round two. My expectations for Jenkins are to push Taylor right away for starting snaps and if he takes over the starting role at some point this season, I won’t be surprised.
In 2018, Taylor would give up eight sacks along with 36 total pressures and according to Pro Football Focus, his run blocking and pass blocking grades were the lowest of his career since becoming a full-time starter.
After the season concluded, we learned that Taylor fought through injuries, but it is still an unknown as to whether or not he will bounce back in 2019, which is why bringing in a player like Jenkins was a smart decision.
Once you learn a little bit about Jenkins, you’ll find out that he is the exact type of player that GM Brian Gutekunst loves to draft. Versatile and athletic.
At Mississippi State, Jenkins would play up and down the offensive line before settling in at center his final two seasons. As an athlete, Jenkins would score a 9.34 on the Relative Athletic Scoring table from his combine measurements, which would rank among the best from this year’s class of interior offensive linemen.
Given that the Packers already have Corey Linsley at center, Jenkins will likely play guard for Green Bay but he gives them a true backup at center, which is something they haven’t had in years. Jenkins is also able to provide another option at tackle if needed, as many think he can be a capable player at that position as well in the NFL.
However, heading into the 2019 season, it will be Lane Taylor’s spot at left guard that Jenkins will be gunning for.
His quick feet, as well as his ability to move well in space, along with being able to control his opponents at the point of attack, makes him an ideal blocker for Matt LaFleur’s zone running scheme.
While on the other hand if we take a look at Taylor, there are some concerns that the new system may not fit his skill set as he is best suited for the power running game.
As a pass protector, Jenkins is very good as well. As mentioned above, he works well in space but he is also able to set a wide base that allows him to anchor against bull rushers. That along with very good hand placement and his overall technique make him difficult for defenders to beat.
Rarely on film will you see Jenkins blow his blocking assignments.
The hope this season is that Taylor will bounce back, but the extra competition during Training Camp and the depth that Jenkins can provide along the entire offensive front is a fantastic thing to have.
Often times in the NFL your level of success is determined by the system you’re placed in, and on paper, it would appear that Elgton Jenkins is a better fit for LaFleur’s system than Lane Taylor is. The result is that Jenkins is going to push for starting snaps right away.