As the 2021 NFL Draft approaches, the general consensus is that the Bears will upgrade their offensive line pretty early.
With a sizable hole at the offensive tackle position, the Bears are expected to draft a player at the position with a selection in the first three rounds for the first time in 10 years, when they took Gabe Carimi in Round 1 back in 2011.
The Bears met that expectation in the annual SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft. Drafting as the team with the No. 20 overall pick, Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. of Windy City Gridiron selected Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins.
The term plug-and-play is thrown around quite a bit around draft time, but in the case of Jenkins, it’s definitely true. The Bears wouldn’t just hand him the right tackle job, as they did recently re-sign Germain Ifedi to man that spot, but if there’s a full offseason program this year there’s no reason a talent like Jenkins shouldn’t be able to beat Ifedi out. Some scouts worry about his arm length, but he uses his hands with such ferocity that I have no concerns about him at tackle.
He’s an experienced, athletic, and powerful blocker who plays with a mean streak, and when asked about the type of player NFL teams would be getting if they drafted him, he said he’s a “tough, physical, nasty motherf—er.” That sounds like a Bear to me.
Jenkins is widely considered to be a first-round lock and has been consistently tied to the Bears in mock drafts over the last month or so. NFL Mock Draft Database has tracked over 1,000 mock drafts over the course of the year, and over the last two weeks, the Bears have been the most popular landing spot for Jenkins with 22 percent of tracked mocks slating him to the Windy City.
The No. 27 player on my big board, Jenkins is a nasty blocker who plays with a mean streak and does a great job of generating power in his lower half. He packs a mean punch at the point of attack, and his pure grip strength allows him to physically overwhelm defenders and seal them off in the run game. The power in his strikes is complemented by impressive placement accuracy and activity in his hands: he generally does a very good job of maintaining inside placement and locking out edge rushers from his frame.
Jenkins tested incredibly well at his Pro Day, including a 5.01 40-yard dash and 36 bench press reps at 6’6 and 317 pounds. He plays with polished footwork in his pass sets, and his ability to adjust his set points and adjust his angles in pass protection to knock pass rushers off their arc makes him an efficient pass protector at the offensive tackle position.
A three-year starter at the collegiate level, Jenkins was a first-team All-Big 12 lineman in 2020 as a redshirt senior. He was also an honorable mention All-Big 12 member as a redshirt junior in 2019.
If there’s one drawback in Jenkins’ game, it’s a fairly stiff lower body. Though his numbers at his Pro Day were pretty impressive, he can get beat with pure speed on the outside rush from time to time. He can struggle with flipping his hips and working across his body to take on quicker-moving edge rushers, and his average lateral burst could limit his upside when compared to less polished, yet more athletic tackle prospects.
The Bears re-signed Germain Ifedi to a one-year deal with the assumption that he will fight for the starting right tackle spot, but bringing in Jenkins is a much smarter strategy to try and secure a long-term option at one of the most important positions in football. With Chicago’s lack of significant investment at offensive tackle under Ryan Pace’s tenure as general manager, the 2021 draft could be an ideal opportunity for them to finally invest in a young, up-and-coming prospect.
To start off the 2020 season, the Bears emphasized the inside zone blocking scheme that they have executed under head coach Matt Nagy. However, they seemed to shift slightly towards an outside zone scheme later in the season.
Whether that will remain the case with Nagy having taken the play-calling role back from offensive coordinator Bill Lazor remains to be seen, but Jenkins’ skill set should translate to just about any blocking scheme. His nasty edge and power at the point of attack should project well in gap or power schemes, but he’s athletic enough to block on the move and take on just about zone scheme.
Chicago came away with a strong haul in this year’s SB Nation Community Mock Draft. By solidifying their offensive line with a nasty tackle, they could find a starter at a key position for years to come.
Top prospects remaining:
- Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia
- Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
- Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
- Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
- Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson