The Chicago Bears’ 2021 NFL Draft class has a chance to be a fantastic haul for embattled general manager Ryan Pace, but second-round pick Teven Jenkins remains a significant blemish on this year’s draft report card. The former Oklahoma State standout has yet to take a snap for the Bears, including in training camp, which he was forced to miss with a back injury that required surgery to repair.
“Without getting into details, he started having some pain down his leg—I think just from the nerve,” Pace said in September. “The good thing about it? As soon as we did [the surgery], those symptoms went away. So we feel good about it. … And the good thing is, guys—just because he had a back surgery doesn’t mean he’s not going to have a good NFL career. We’re excited about the player, excited about where he’s heading. Now we feel we fixed the problem.”
Now entering Week 7 of the regular season, are we absolutely certain surgery ‘fixed the problem?’ Head coach Matt Nagy failed to provide an update on Jenkins’ condition on Wednesday, saying instead that everything remains the same for the 6-foot-6, 321-pounder.
Jenkins’ injury left Chicago vulnerable on the blindside, and Pace was forced to sign veteran Jason Peters during the preseason in an effort to provide the Bears with at least competent play and experience at such a critical position. Fortunately for Chicago, Peters has exceeded expectations thus far.
“He came in and just fit in right away,” Nagy said of Peters. “And those guys gravitate to him because you can tell he’s an authentic real leader. So he does it. He takes care of his body. He’s really cerebral. Super smart. (He) understands (and has) seen a bunch of different techniques.”
Peters’ ability to stabilize left tackle while Jenkins recovers has, in a way, bailed out Pace, who seems to have a propensity for drafting injury-prone players. Sometimes, those players (like Kevin White) get hurt after they enter the league, but Jenkins is different. His back issues were a known problem on draft weekend; it’s why he fell to the second round despite possessing first-round talent.
If Jenkins is able to make a full recovery and contribute at some point in 2021, the Bears’ 2021 draft class has a chance to set the foundation for a young, up-and-coming roster. Justin Fields was the first-rounder, with Jenkins being the alleged steal in Round 2. Chicago added players like OT Larry Borom in the fifth round, who looks like he’s on track to be the Bears’ starting right tackle next season (assuming he recovers from injury too). Khalil Herbert is already a sixth-round star.
And remember: The Bears hit on 2020 picks like CB Jaylon Johnson, EDGE Trevis Gipson, and WR Darnell Mooney.
Still, a Jenkins-miss would represent a major buzzkill for a team that’s primary objective is to build around Fields. It starts up front, and traditionally, it begins at left tackle. If Pace whiffed on Jenkins, it will force Chicago to overspend in free agency or use another early-round draft asset on the position.
- Aug 22, 2022
- Aug 22, 2022