Just given the nature of playing guard in the NFL, Elgton Jenkins really has no chance of winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. In fact, outside of Wisconsin, I’m not sure that many NFL fans even know who Elgton Jenkins is. But with his play this season, at a minimum, he should be in the conversation for Rookie of the Year.
Looking back at this past offseason for the Green Bay Packers, GM Brian Gutekunst had a number of issues to fix and one of them was the guard position. In free agency Gutekunst signed Billy Turner and then in the second round of the draft, instead of taking receivers A.J. Brown, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, or Parris Campbell like many Packer fans had hoped, he took the center from Mississippi State.
While Jenkins certainly wasn’t the sexy pick, the Packers were getting a heck of a football player. Jenkins is incredibly athletic which suits him well for Matt LaFleur’s zone running scheme, and at Mississippi State he had shown that he can play multiple positions along the offensive line. Not to mention that in his four years, he had allowed just three total sacks.
Once arriving to Green Bay it was evident that Jenkins would be pushing veteran Lane Taylor for the starting job at left guard and after a fantastic preseason, the question quickly became “when” would he be starting rather than “if” he would be starting.
Although Taylor was named the starter for week one in Chicago, Jenkins would play 18 snaps against Minnesota the following week, then by week three, he was named Green Bay’s starting left guard. And he hasn’t looked back.
According to Pro Football Focus, Jenkins has played 536 total snaps, 349 of which have been in pass protection, and he is yet to allow a single sack or quarterback hit during that span. As a matter of fact, of all the NFL guards that have played at least 500 snaps this season, Jenkins is the only one to not allow a single sack or hit. Just an incredible performance from the rookie.
While there is no question that Jenkins strength and speed are key factors in his early success, in an interview with Wes Hodkiewicz of Packers.com, offensive line coach Adam Stenavich credited Jenkins intelligence as well:
“He’s a really intelligent guy, very football smart,” Stenavich said. “He’s confident because he can go out there and he knows what to do, and he knows who to block so he can play fast. That’s the biggest thing for rookies is figuring out what to do, so when they do it they can do at a high level. He’s been able to do that almost from Day 1.”
Whether it’s keeping the pocket clean for Aaron Rodgers or working his way to the second level in the running game, Jenkins has shown that he can do it all and at a high-level. While I won’t be holding my breath that he enters the conversation for Rookie of the Year, I thought that it was necessary to show Jenkins some love because he has been outstanding.