Teven Jenkins didn’t get the same fanfare in the NFL draft as Justin Fields, but a lot of people were almost as excited the Chicago Bears got him. It was a genuine surprise to many experts he fell into the 2nd round. Prior to the draft, almost everybody had him going in the bottom half of the 1st. For the Bears to snare him at the 39th pick was a genuine shock.

In fact, the Bears may have been more surprised than anybody. GM Ryan Pace stated after the second day of the draft that the team had a 1st round grade on Jenkins. Not only that, but he also stated they felt the Oklahoma State standout wasn’t exclusively a right tackle as many claim. They believe he can play either side. Something they proved when they released Charles Leno Jr. after the draft was over.

Is their confidence in him really that strong?

It should be. At least according to one of Jenkins’ former coaches. Tobian Thomas was one of the first people to see him play. Thomas is the coach for Top City Crush in Topeka, Kansas. They are one of the top youth football programs in the state, taking in pre-high school youths at the 6th grade level. When Thomas encountered Jenkins, it didn’t take long for him to realize how good the kid was.

“You could just tell from the beginning that he had something special about him.”

He wasn’t the only one who reached this epiphany. His high school coaches understood his talent almost immediately as well. Not just the size and strength but how incredibly fast he was. Jenkins proved this at his pro day, running a 4.9 in the 40-yard dash at 317 lbs. Thomas probably wasn’t surprised. His expectations for the new Bears blocker is probably higher than most.

“I think he can be one of the best to ever do it. He has the work ethic, he has the drive, he has the passion, he has the skillset, he has the size for it. I would anticipate him having a Hall of Fame career.”

Bears ready to make Teven Jenkins the guardian of their future

With Leno out, the rookie 2nd round pick suddenly becomes the heavy favorite to start at left tackle for the Bears. A bold decision by the organization. He started most of his games at right tackle in college. So some wonder if he even has the capability to handle the left side. The thing is that isn’t his fault. Oklahoma State head coach had initially planned to start Jenkins at left tackle in 2020.

In fact, he did just that in the opener against Tulsa. Hunter Anthony was the starter on the right side. That was the configuration the team planned to keep the rest of the season. Then Anthony suffered an ankle injury. Primary backup Jake Springfield was more comfortable on the left side, so Teven Jenkins was asked to go back to right tackle. This he did without complaint. The line played so well that the configuration was kept that was the rest of the season.

It was never that Jenkins couldn’t play left tackle.

His college coaches clearly felt he could. They just never kept him there due to unforeseen circumstances. The Bears weren’t fooled. Their evaluations saw a player who could anchor the left side of an offensive line for years to come. Somebody they’re willing to entrust the future of their franchise Justin Fields to. That is the height of confidence from an organization. Based on the words of his former coach? That confidence is well-placed.