Cory's Corner: Stop Overlooking Elgton Jenkins

The Packers aren't 8-2 without Elgton Jenkins.

That sounds crazy because the majority of NFL fans have no idea who Jenkins is. The rookie guard is playing at a Pro Bowl level and is easily Green Bay's best draft pick from last year. Darnell Savage has lightning speed but has battled injuries and Rashan Gary is only averaging 15 snaps a game.

Jenkins played center last year at Mississippi State but is the Swiss Army Knife of the offensive line by starting at four different positions while in Starkville. Jenkins is proving how important the versatility trait is to this new regime.

It's almost hard to believe that Lane Taylor actually started the season at left guard. Jenkins has allowed 10 quarterback hurries in 536 snaps, including zero quarterback hits.

Ever since Jenkins started, the offense has gotten noticably better. Aaron Jones has been the focal point of the offense and Rodgers has been a lot cleaner. In Jenkins' first three games as a starter, the Packers averaged 29 points a game and 288 yards passing.

When Jenkins was picked in the second round, many didn't understand why the Packers would draft a center so high. But general manager Brian Gutekunst showed yet again why he knows what he's doing. He knows the most important aspect on the offensive line is versatility, especially when that line is in charge of blocking a future Hall of Famer.

“If you want to be the best, there’s always things you can work on," Jenkins said earlier this month. "You can never be complacent with your job and the things that you’ve accomplished. So, you critique every small thing. When you’re doing everything to the best of your ability, eventually, everybody will label you as the best.”

It's hard to believe that Jenkins is still a 23-year-old rookie because he sounds like a 28-year-old veteran. He knows what he wants and he understands how to get there. What's even better is that coach Matt LaFleur knows that he can move Jenkins around if the injury bug bites the offensive line.

Green Bay is one of the best teams in the NFC. Sunday's game against the 49ers is one of the most pivotal games on the NFL schedule. Without Jenkins, the Packers are still spinning their wheels with a 6-4 record.

And if Jenkins can do it as a fresh-faced rookie, why can't Bryan Bulaga have one of his best seasons in years? Jenkins isn't just doing it himself, his success is also contagious.

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (30)

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Spock's picture

November 23, 2019 at 07:15 am

I don't think anyone is "overlooking" Jenkins" (especially not Packer fans). Many here at CHTV were skeptical of starting Taylor over Jenkins to start the year. So far the best draft pick this year.

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BoCallahan's picture

November 23, 2019 at 07:26 am

Nagler and other contributors have often sang the praises of E.J. If you consistently read or listen to this site you are reminded of just how good he is. So glad he is wearing the green and gold!

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Qoojo's picture

November 23, 2019 at 10:21 am

I think Cory often writes headlines to support what he wants to talk about. I have heard nothing but praise for the guy all year, and have read several articles about him making rookie of the year (team?) or whatever it is called.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 23, 2019 at 12:17 pm

There are 11 positions on offense. In order of importance, Left Guard is #10.

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ALLGASNOBRAKES's picture

November 23, 2019 at 01:30 pm

I'm guessing here but by that logic would RG be #11 in order of importance? I mean I would think so since Rodgers is right-handed it would probably be the case, certainly not more important than LG anyways for a right-handed QB.

So after watching Rodgers get the everloving shit kicked out of him with Byron Bell playing the LEAST Important RG position, I wonder if he agrees? Or Aaron Jones ripping off nice runs or following Jenkins into the end-zone, do you suppose Jones agrees?

Takes all 5 on the O-Line. They all don't have to be Pro-Bowlers but when you throw in a Byron Bell it just screws it all up. WHEW!!!! Thank God he played the LEAST important and not #10.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 23, 2019 at 04:06 pm

So then, how would you rank the 11 positions in order of importance?

Ron Wolf always said you can find somebody to play guard. I agree. Tackles and centers are more important. So are the skill positions.

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Qoojo's picture

November 23, 2019 at 04:58 pm

Well, this ranking stuff is silly. It's a team game. If the OL unit cannot block to give the QB time to throw, then having the best WR in the world doesn't matter. If the OL unit cannot run block and the RB is facing tacklers at the hand off, then about the only back in NFL history that would work is Barry Sanders in his prime, but even the packers shut him down in a playoff game to -1 yard gained.

Point is that nothing on the offense works if the OL unit doesn't function. If there is a weak link or two, teams will find it out and blitz/scheme accordingly to take advantage of it, so that the weak link is always in 1-1 situations.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 23, 2019 at 05:11 pm

So that explains why all positions are paid equally, right? Because LGi is just as important as QB

Listen. All positions are important, but some are more important Than others and that’s why they get paid more. Look at the NFL salary structures and tell me what conclusion you draw.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 23, 2019 at 11:26 pm

They paid Taylor More than they would Have a Veteran free agent QB, to back up Rodgers and maybe salvage a season
unlike 2017-18. Not sound reasoning.

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WilsonMaywick's picture

November 24, 2019 at 09:21 am

My buddy is in actuary who makes three times what I do. In my job I've saved lives; my buddy has not. Is his job more important than mine? No. Our society rewards certain positions more than others. Importance has nothing to do with it.

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PeteK's picture

November 24, 2019 at 11:03 am

Yes and the line went through a few terrible years . The line is only as good when they play as a whole unit. Put some conditioner on that leather, you're cracking up. hahaha

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ricky's picture

November 23, 2019 at 07:41 am

Jenkins is indeed a great find. But to assume the team loses two more games, and that somehow Jenkins has made it possible for Bulaga to stay injury free, seems like hyperbole. After all, if he had that effect on Bulaga, he apparently has had the opposite effect on Bakhtiari, who, for him, is having a sub-par year.

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CoryJennerjohn's picture

November 23, 2019 at 07:58 am

I wouldn’t say injury free as much as a constant motivator. Jenkins is doing something that nobody thought he could do — a she’s doing it at a very high level.

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stockholder's picture

November 23, 2019 at 08:07 am

Protect Arron Rodgers! Jenkins understood that. The kid can Battle. OL Improvement was obvious.

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Guam's picture

November 23, 2019 at 08:38 am

Kudos to Gute for fixing the O-line which was a train wreck last year. Both of the new guards have performed well and are a big part of the reason the team is much better.

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Gort's picture

November 23, 2019 at 08:39 am

Before the draft, i said it was all about the big uglies. Gute found a very good one. A bit early in Jenkins career to call him great, but that superlative may be coming soon. Go get 'em kid.

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Lphill's picture

November 23, 2019 at 08:49 am

Jenkins is playing at a pro bowl worthy level.

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4thand1's picture

November 23, 2019 at 09:05 am

This next game will see just how good the o-line is. If the Pack wins the LOS on offense they win this game. They will all have to be at their best and should be after the bye. The coaches have had 2 weeks to prepare so the pressure is on the coaching staff to execute a game plan that works.

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Stroh's picture

November 23, 2019 at 01:19 pm

Players have to execute. The coaches design a scheme for the players to execute.

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ChuckCecilKO's picture

November 23, 2019 at 09:10 am

Jenkins' play has warranted a pro bowl selection. His play is definitely infectious along that veteran offensive line. What a find by the Packers! He already got my vote for the Pro Bowl!

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Bure9620's picture

November 23, 2019 at 09:53 am

We struggled terribly at guard last year and it was most noticeable on play action. MM had to stop running PA because there was pressure in AR lap half the time. Jenkins has been terrific.

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RedRight49's picture

November 23, 2019 at 10:08 am

Jenkins certainly was a great pick and his 1st year play has surpassed his Round 2 draft status.

Brian Gutekunst deserves high praise for selecting Jenkins in the 2nd round. He selected a versatile Center - O-lineman with the ability to help anchor a pro O-line and help keep Number 12 clean and upright.

I believe too, a pat on the back is due to Luke Getsy, new QB coach, who coached at Mississippi State last year while Jenkins anchored their line.

It's my understanding Getsy was able to provide valuable insight, not only into Jenkin's physical abilities but his work ethic and character as well.

Best pick of the 2019 draft!

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ALLGASNOBRAKES's picture

November 23, 2019 at 10:29 am

To suggest the Packers are 6-4 without Jenkins is (sorry Cory) ridiculous IMO. BUT I don't think this offense is good as it is, produces a 4-0 record without Davante Adams, or is as successful as an offensive line without him in the starting LG position. Jenkins has been one of the BEST Packers draft picks in years. To not give up even one QB hit in his first 8 games is pretty amazing. With David Bakhtiari's ailing back hindering him all year, Jenkins doing what he's doing next to a 75% Bakhtiari makes his play even MORE impressive.

I'd also like to add this...Some feel Gute dropped the ball on Rashawn Gary with I think is ridiculous as well. We just don't know yet on Gary and with the FA additions, Gary didn't have to be a savior or come in and make an immediate impact. Actually, I think Gary could turn into a BETTER player because of the way he's being brought along. He has 2 of the better LB Coaches in the NFL to teach him and one of the BEST starting OLB duos in the NFL to learn from. Nope, I think Gary will be just fine. My point on this was Gute had a HELL of a draft this year and IMO last years wasn't too damn shabby either. Let's focus on ALL the good Gute has done in LESS than 2 years as GM instead of focusing on what he didn't do before the trade deadline this past October or labeling a kid a bust after 10 NFL games.

8-2!!! Now let's kick SF's Ass!

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LambeauPlain's picture

November 23, 2019 at 11:50 am

After Jenks was drafted, I watched his college tape. The young man was rock in the pass game and a road grader in the run game.

I felt he would be a starter this year as a huge grade over Taylor.

He is the best O lineman for the Pack in games he has started. He’s gonna start for a long time.

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Stroh's picture

November 23, 2019 at 01:07 pm

Jenkins won't be moving to another position, injury or not. He'll be a 10 yr starter at OG. They have other backup OL that need to be versatile. Moving a starter to cover another position just weakens 2 positions instead of one. Which makes no sense

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MarkinMadison's picture

November 24, 2019 at 07:49 am

I'm not so sure about that Stroh. I think there is a pretty good chance they decide not spend big money on Linsley and let him walk. Then Jenkins slides inside. Remember, Linsley will be a 30-year-old unrestricted free agent in 2021. I'd put the odds of him being in Green Bay in 1.5 years at about 50/50. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, his cap hit next year balloons to over $10M, with a dead cap hit of $2M. This is a contract that cries out, "cut me or extend me." It could go either way with Jenkins on a rookie deal.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 24, 2019 at 12:08 pm

They will draft a center or move Patrick up. Jenkins fits best at LG. The primary focus of the 2020 draft will be OT, WR and ILBs.

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Stroh's picture

November 23, 2019 at 01:07 pm

Jenkins won't be moving to another position, injury or not. He'll be a 10 yr starter at OG. They have other backup OL that need to be versatile. Moving a starter to cover another position just weakens 2 positions instead of one. Which makes no sense

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Gman1976's picture

November 23, 2019 at 11:57 pm

Wouldn’t it be great if Gutekunst could add just one quality OL in each of the next 4 drafts? Rodgers and company would be capable of doing of being dominant with quality lineman like Jenkins.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

November 24, 2019 at 10:55 am

Elgton Jenkins has been a blessing and exactly what the OL needed. In terms of next year's draft we currently are sitting here not really knowing what we have in the following players that hopefully over the next 6 regular season games and hopefully playoffs we get to see them perform extensively to allow us insight on what truly are the Packers greatest needs in the draft.

1. What do we have in Tim Boyle at back-up QB? Granted next year will be his 3rd season and one should expect him to be better than this year but what do we have there? Is Boyle going to be a legitimate QB in this league? We NEED to find out this year as with Rodgers advancing age and injury history the Packers need a legitimate back-up.
2. It always takes WR's about 3-years to really show up and that appears to be true with MVS. One of my biggest dissapointments this year was with ESB being put on injured reserve. Why? Because he along with Lazard are the most physical WR's IMHO and they are great across the middle. I am a fan of Lazard, MVS, and ESB but are any of them legitimate #1 or #2 WR's? Definitely not a #1 but can they ever become true #2's? I believe a top notch speedy WR with twitch is needed in the slot to make this offense dangerous.
3. ILB is obviously a big need with Martinez's contract. What do the Packers have in Ty Summers, Oren Burks, Randy Ramsey, Curtis Bolton and Greg Roberts? Are the Packers as desperate as it appears at LB? There are a couple of young LB's with speed and ability there. Can we not get a few of them on the field to see what we have before the end of the regular season?
4. Interior DL stopping the run is a big need. Montravious Adams is coming up for a new contract I believe and so far he has not really shown he is the answer. I was always excited about Adam's potential but he has not stepped up the way I was hoping. We have a lot of names on DL like Rashan, Looney, Lowery, Lancaster, and Kingsley, but do the Packers have 'the guy' who will help solidify the interior DL? I am not seeing it right now but a guy like Kingsley what role do the Pack see him in? What will be his ideal weight?
5. Tonyan and Sternberger are the future at TE and will be the 'guys' next year. However, with Tonyan's injury it isn't truly clear what the Packers have there? These two players need a lot of reps and opportunities because the Pack need to figure out what they truly have in them. If they can keep from expending high draft capital here it would really help at other positions. I believe these two players have all the talent necessary to be legitimate players in the league. With AJ out of the back field and a speedy/twitchy slot WR I think the Pack may be just fine with Tonyan and Sternberger but how do we know for certain?
6. OT which I believe right now is the Packers biggest need along with ILB. Without question they need to hit on an OT like they did this past year with Jenkins at Guard. What do the Packers have in Yosh Nijman? Will he ever be a good to a very good OT?
7. At RB I really like Dexter Williams and his potential is huge. However, he has 'a lot' of maturing if he is ever going to be a top player like say Aaron Jones. The talent is there but a guy like Aaron has his head on straight and I question Dexter. I think Dexter is a big risk and not sure he will ever (sure hoping so) be able to be the player he can be. If not, this is a position the Packers need help at.

At most of the above positions of need there are quite a few young talented players but there are a lot of unanswered questions. The Pack NEEDS to find out what they have at some of these positions prior to next year's draft. I understand there is a balancing act with the Pack making a push for the playoffs and home field advantage. I just hope there are opportunities here and there where some of these young guys are given opportunities to show what they have.

I like everything Gutey and LF are doing and 100% supportive and I am enjoying the Pack again and the direction they are headed.

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