Setting realistic expectations for Teven Jenkins with Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

While you can watch a few highlights of Teven Jenkins and get rather excited about his projection into the NFL it is easy to get out ahead of your skis when it comes to a rookie entering the NFL. It is a tough transition for any rookie, and while Jenkins has his highs, the Chicago Bears did see him slip into round two for a reason.

Beyond that we are now talking about a player who is shifting from a career predominantly at right tackle and shifting to the left side. Yes, Jenkins has spent enough time at left tackle that it is not a sole projection, but there is a lot coming in the transition to the NFL for Teven Jenkins.

Overall, it means that fans expect an elite starter at the blind side next season when they could get a player who is not quite ready to be that man, even if he could be soon.

Second Round Tackles

You can say that Todd McShay or whoever your favorite TV guy said that Jenkins should have gone higher, but the fact is that Teven Jenkins went in the second round for a reason. Second rounders have great success, but when looking at how he might succeed, it is hard to say that Andrew Thomas, the number four overall pick last year is a good comparison. Or, Tristan Wirfs, who went mid first, but also stayed at right tackle.

Since 2011, 21 rookies have taken over half of their teams offensive snaps from left tackle. Of those, 13 were first round picks. Considering all of them went so high, their projection was easier, mainly because they all had more experience at left tackle than Jenkins does.

It is also worth noting that of the eight players who started at left tackle as rookies, three were sixth round picks, and one was a UDFA. In the case of George Fant, Dennis Daley, and Justin Skule, it became a need issue rather than want like we have in Chicago. David Bahktiari started as a fourth round pick and the rest is history. That is a rare outcome.

For legitimate comparison sake that leaves us with Cordy Glenn, Cam Robinson, Dion Dawkins, and Donovan Smith as players who fell to round two, but turned out to be starting left tackles for their team as a rookie. Overall, that is not a bad list to be lumped in with.

However, it is worth noting that these tackles fell for other reasons than the transition of right tackle to left. All four played left tackle in their final season at college.

How these offensive tackles played as rookies

Donovan Smith started 16 games, Cam Robinson started 15 games, Cordy Glenn started 13 and Dion Dawkins started 11. It is worth noting that Glenn and Robinson started week one, though. Dawkins did not, but played 27% of the offensive snaps, and played 40% the next week as he was eased. Nonetheless, it was mainly injuries that held these rookie LTs from starting a full year.

In the case of Dawkins, he excelled after being eased in. According to PFF, he had a grade of 80, and allowed 3 sacks and 23 pressures. Glenn had a 71 grade with six sacks and 31 pressures. Robinson struggled as a rookie with a 53 grade, but allowed just 3 sacks on 39 pressures. He did grade out better in pass protection for what it is worth. Smith had a 63 grade with 1 sack and 42 pressures allowed.

For comparison, Leno had a 74 grade with three sacks and 24 pressures allowed. An average of those four rookies would be a 67 grade, with 3 sacks allowed and 34 pressures. Nobody is saying that Teven Jenkins is worse than Charles Leno. However, if Jenkins has a season where the level of play as a rookie is not a drastic upgrade from Leno last season, it should not be a surprise. It could be more similar than fans think. Although once again, that is Leno in his prime vs. Jenkins as a rookie.

Right Tackle Rookies

For what it is worth, there are more situations where rookies jump in as rookies on the right side than the left. 34 rookies have played over half of their teams offensive snaps at right tackle since 2011 compared to 21 on the left.

Of those, only 12 were first rounders. So, 22 non-first rounders started on the right side, while eight started on the left since 2011.

Below you can see a look at the players drafted from pick 30-45 in the NFL Draft to see what type of players fall to that range. Typically, these lineman are not flashy, but have turned into starters. They are sorted by their rookie season contributions.

Query Results Table
1Ryan Ramczyk2017231-32NORNFL91616100
2Kaleb McGary2019241-31ATLNFL81616100
3Donovan Smith2015222-34TAMNFL81616100
4Cam Robinson2017222-34JAXNFL81515100
5Jonathan Martin2012232-42MIANFL71616100
6Mitchell Schwartz2012232-37CLENFL71616100
7Jawaan Taylor2019222-35JAXNFL71616100
8Braden Smith2018222-37INDNFL71513100
9Cody Ford2019232-38BUFNFL61615100
10Cordy Glenn2012232-41BUFNFL61313100
11Germain Ifedi2016221-31SEANFL61313100
12Robert Hunt2020242-39MIANFL51611100
13Derek Sherrod2011221-32GNBNFL150100
14Menelik Watson2013252-42OAKNFL153100
15Greg Little2019222-37CARNFL143100
16Cyrus Kouandjio2014212-44BUFNFL010100

Yes ,we see Smith, Robinson and Glenn, three lineman who started week one on the left side. However, Ramcyzk, McGary, Martin, Scwartz, Taylor, Smith, Ford, Ifedi, and Hunt all started as rookies. Beyond that, you are talking about some elite lineman in the NFL, or at least fortified starters.

What is interesting is that for the three left tackles in this range we see nine players fall to this range because they are right tackles. However, in every case they stuck at right tackle and did not move to the left side.

dark. Next. 5 OL combos Bears could deploy week one

The Chicago Bears are either going to realize that they had an elite right tackle and might have realized why he fell when they shift him to left tackle. Or, they realize that these players like Ramcyzk, and Schwartz who are elite on the right side could do the same on the left and that the Bears found a sweet spot for finding where non-left tackles who can play left tackle fall in the draft.