The Packers Potentially Have the Best Left Side of the Offensive Line in the NFL

The Green Bay Packers enter the 2020 season with potentially the best left side of any offensive line in the NFL. Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari and starting left guard Elgton Jenkins are both considered among the top players at their respective positions.

Bakhtiari has long been considered one of the best pass blockers in the NFL. The former Colorado star has been a starter since entering the NFL in 2013 and has missed only six games in seven seasons.

Bakhtiari protects Aaron Rodgers’ blindside against some of the top pass rushers in the game. That task is made more difficult due to Rodgers’ tendency to hold onto the ball longer than most quarterbacks as he attempts to extend plays or make big plays downfield.

While Bakhtiari has been a consistent player for many years, it took a little while before his reputation caught up with his level of play. He earned Pro Bowl honors for the first time in 2016, was named All Pro after the 2018 season and earned Pro Bowl honors again last season.

In fact, Pro Football Focus noted that from Week 10 until the NFC Championship Game, Bakhtiari played 383 pass plays and did not allow a single sack.

In 2018, PFF ranked Bakhtiari as the best pass blocking tackle in the game, saying, “Bakhtiari has simply perfected his style of pass-protection, and improved enough physically since entering the league to execute it…Watching the angles of Bakhtiari’s pass sets is a thing of beauty. He gains so much depth off the snap, and most importantly, never stops his feet.”

Rodgers has long acknowledged how much he appreciates what Bakhtiari does for him on the field. Late in the 2018 season, he said, “He’s an All-Pro. I think he has Hall of Fame potential. He’s an incredible player. He’s been a rock for us. When he’s over there, you feel really comfortable with him locking down pass rushers throughout the game.”

In 2019, Bakhtiari was joined on the left side of the offensive line by rookie Elgton Jenkins who took over as the starter after Lane Taylor was lost for the season due to injury in Week 2.

All Jenkins did was go through the entire season without allowing a sack. He earned All-Rookie Team honors and helped give the Packers a strong one-two punch on the left side of their offensive front.

Midway through last season, Packers offensive line coach Adam Stenavich had this to say about his new starting left guard, “He's a really intelligent guy, very football smart. 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 one.”

Jenkins said that playing with a veteran like Bakhtiari helped him succeed as a rookie. This week, he told Matt Schneidman of The Athletic that Bakhtiari would “always tell me just be prepared. Preparation is the key. Get my body right, get my mind right. Know when to dial in and when to let go of football to get your mind right. One of the things off the field, I feel like, knowing that, he helped me out a lot. And on the field, certain techniques, certain small things about the game that he felt I could get better at, he helped me out with, too.”

The encouraging thing about Jenkins is that as he gains experience, he can still get better and take his game to another level. As he gains more experience and hones his technique, the former Mississippi State star has the potential to make that second year jump and to become a Pro Bowl-caliber performer.

Bakhtiari sees how much potential Jenkins has. Last month during a conference call with reporters, Bakhtiari described Jenkins as “naturally gifted. I think the thing that separates him is his instincts as a football player. When you can’t really explain why you’re doing certain stuff but you’re doing it, as someone who can relate to that earlier on in my career, that’s extremely effective. When you’re just playing fast and answering questions and you don’t really know why you’re doing it, that’s awesome because you’re not even thinking about it.”

With the 2020 offseason altered and cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, the fact that Jenkins and Bakhtiari are both returning starters and both familiar with each other will also be a big plus for the Packers.

There is no doubt that on paper, this duo on the left side of the Packers offensive line has the potential to be one of the best if not the best in the league. Now, they need to go out on the field and prove it.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (13)

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ricky's picture

July 04, 2020 at 12:24 pm

The left side is outstanding. The center is adequate/good. The right side is a big question mark. Turner had an OK season, but gave up six sacks. The presumptive starter at RT, Wagner, during his last year in Detroit, gave up eight sacks, and ranked 44th of 64 tackles at pass blocking efficiency (PFF stats). We're about to find out if half a loaf is better than none.

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GilMartin's picture

July 04, 2020 at 02:45 pm

No doubt the right side is a much bigger question mark than the left side. Tried to focus on the positive today. Thanks for the comment, ricky.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

July 04, 2020 at 12:39 pm

Jenkins was Packers best draft choice last year - a potential 10 yr. all-pro player. Wondering about the depth at tackle(s) should Bakhtiari go down for any length of time. And the Packers should at least try to sign him for a 3rd contract - within reason. As for the right side, it's bit of a dog's dinner, and a longer article. However bringing back Lane Taylor may somehow fortify the right side. Certainly he provides the team with exceptional interior o-line depth.

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GilMartin's picture

July 04, 2020 at 02:47 pm

Jenkins was a great pick and hopefully we realizes his full potential and becomes our starter for a decade. I would sign Bakhtiari to one more deal if the terms are OK, I think he's just that good. I also like bringing back Taylor. Like you said, if nothing else, he gives up depth and more flexibility. Thanks for commenting, Alberta_Packer.

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stockholder's picture

July 04, 2020 at 01:29 pm

Your Right! A very good Left side. Free of injuries! And that is the biggest plus for any team in the NFL. Keeping Free of injuries.

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GilMartin's picture

July 04, 2020 at 02:48 pm

Injuries are always the great equalizer. Last year, the Packers were fortunate. Hopefully, that continues this year. Thanks for commenting, stockholder.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

July 04, 2020 at 02:15 pm

Gil,

Well written.

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GilMartin's picture

July 04, 2020 at 02:48 pm

Thanks, Ferrari-Driver. Always appreciated.

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NickPerry's picture

July 05, 2020 at 05:08 am

IMO Bakhtiari should have been All-Pro more often than he's been elected. He IS the best pass blocking LT in the game and has been for a number of years. Being an All-Pro is as much as popularity contest as anything else. Bakhtiari should have 1st Team All-Pro more than once.

If Jenkins stays healthy though out his career he's going to be All-Pro for MULTIPLE years. This kid not only is an excellent pass blocker but go back and watch a lot of the big runs from Jones last year. He's a friggen road grader when the Packers run behind him. Even at Guard, a position some claim not to be that important, Jenkins could be one of the best draft choices the Packers have had in years.

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GilMartin's picture

July 05, 2020 at 03:07 pm

Agree with both things you said, NickPerry. With offensive linemen, recognition often lags a year or two after they get really good because traditionally, there aren't many stats for linemen, so their reputation has to be built and then spread across the league before they get recognized as one of the best. Bakhtiari deserves at least a couple more All-Pro and Pro Bowl notices in my opinion.
I also think Jenkins has the potential to be an elite player for the next decade if he stays healthy and works hard. I love the left side of this line.
Thanks for commenting.

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gkarl's picture

July 06, 2020 at 09:10 am

NP

Agreed recognition for line play seems to lag behind actual performance on the field. The opposite is also true, it seems once you get the recognition you maintain that status of elite beyond the time you should. Look at Jeff Saturday as just one example.

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mnbadger's picture

July 05, 2020 at 08:25 am

Left side is set, for this year anyway. Right side needs to have Lane T supplant Billy T. Rick W is an upgrade over BB on run plays, but not close to him when passing. New offense emphasizes run, so that helps. Hopefully more quick passes also keep AR upright for the rest of his career. GPG

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GilMartin's picture

July 05, 2020 at 03:08 pm

Will Rodgers throw a lot of quick passes? We shall see how much of the LaFleur system is added this year and if the Packers do transition more away from the McCarthy offense. The right side has questions, but we'll see who emerges. I think Turner and Wagner will start camp as the incumbents. Thanks for the comment, mnbadger.

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