Would you believe a second-round rookie is the only member of the Green Bay Packers offensive line that hasn’t allowed Aaron Rodgers to get sacked this season?
Elgton Jenkins has played beyond his years in 536 offensive snaps this season for the Packers, the bulk of which have come as a starter after he took over for the injured Lane Taylor at left guard coming into Week 3’s game against the Denver Broncos. He hasn’t been at fault once in the 22 times Rodgers has been dragged to the turf this season, whereas every other starter on the offensive line has allowed at least two sacks, according to Pro Football Focus stats.
Remarkably, Jenkins also hasn’t allowed a single hit against his quarterback, which makes him the only NFL guard with at least 500 snaps played this season to allow no QB hits or sacks.
While first-round safety Darnell Savage Jr. has gotten more of the spotlight, Jenkins has been a surprise success for the Packers both in terms of pass protection and opening up holes for the run. Seldom do rookies slide into starting roles on offensive lines and thrive quite to the extent he has, all the more reason why Jenkins sits at the top of the Packers’ 2019 rookie class.
“I feel good,” Turner said in a one-on-one interview with former Packers Pro Bowler Larry McCarren. “You know, playing beside the guys I play by … it’s just preparation in the room and things like that leading up to game day. I feel good playing.”
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The Good and the Bad of Elgton Jenkins
Right now, Jenkins is one of just three offensive guards with a 97 percent win rate in pass-blocking, according to ESPN Analytics, sitting tied at the top of the position group with Baltimore Ravens’ Marshal Yanda and New England Patriots’ Joe Thuney. It should also be mentioned that he has yet to miss a single offensive snap since stepping in as a starter.
Such an effective start to Jenkins’ career bodes well for the long-term future with the Packers, who have him signed through 2022 on his rookie contract. Both his versatility — he played just about every line position at Mississippi State — and athleticism add to his value as an asset.
Jenkins said he has consistently earned high grades in the team’s game-by-game evaluations and credits much of his standout success to taking the right approach in his preparation.
“Just like I say, throughout the week, (it’s) preparation,” Jenkins said. “Staying in the hot tub, cold tub, making sure I’m lifting in the weight room and then just staying on top of my body, mentally and physically.”
The rookie, though, isn’t without his flaws. While his protection has been a strength of the Packers’ offensive line, Jenkins has been whistled for six penalties throughout the season to rank tied for the second most among his position group around the league.
How Are the Packers’ Other 2019 Rookies Doing?
Picking Jenkins as the frontrunner among rookie Packers isn’t too difficult of a task, but Savage has been the next-closest prospect as a key part of the team’s secondary. The safety out of Maryland has a fifth-most 36 tackles, an interception and forced fumble this season, despite missing Weeks 6 and 7 with a high-ankle sprain.
Savage, though, hasn’t quite looked his usual self since returning for the Packers’ 31-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8 with a number of lapses and beats occurring his last three outings.
The rest of the class has been a mixed bag. The Packers’ top overall pick, Rashan Gary, has been used sparingly while being renovated into an outside linebacker after playing primarily defensive end at Michigan, but he has very few impactful plays to his name. Fifth-rounder Kingsley Keke has been similarly limited as a rotational member of the defensive line.
Third-round tight end Jace Sternberger, on the other hand, missed the first eight games with an injury after a strong preseason, while the others — Ka’dar Hollman, Dexter Williams and Ty Summers — have either been inactive or received limited opportunities.