GREEN BAY – Early in the second round of the draft on Friday night, there was a run on offensive tackles, with four getting selected in the first nine picks.
Meanwhile, the Packers waited for an interior lineman to be there for them.
In selecting Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins with the 12th pick of the second round (No. 44 overall), the Packers may have found a true backup center as well as a prospect to compete at guard in 2019.
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Jenkins started every game for the Bulldogs the last two years at center while also starting earlier in his career at both tackle spots and left guard.
“We took him as a guard,” college scout Charles Walls said. “But with a guy that size, that athletic, you watch the tape and you feel comfortable putting him anywhere you need him to be.
“Definitely a light bulb goes off when a guy falls to you with that much value, that much versatility.”
The Packers have an open starting spot at guard heading into this season, though free-agent signee Billy Turner would appear to be the front-runner. Veteran center Corey Linsley also hasn’t had a backup with any extensive center experience, so Jenkins fits the bill there.
Jenkins received All-America recognition from a couple of media outlets (The Athletic, Phil Steele) and is a two-time Southeastern Conference academic honor roll member.
“When you watch him, he’s got everything in his body,” Walls said. “When he wants to be dominant, wants to control guys, he can do it, and he does it on a consistent basis.”
A native of Clarksdale, Miss., Jenkins got just the one scholarship offer and stayed in state. In a conference call with Green Bay media, he was audibly emotional when talking about being drafted given the lack of widespread interest in him five years ago.
He said the call from the Packers produced tears of joy.
“Coming out of high school, I wasn’t highly recruited,” he said. “Mississippi State took a chance on me, and I was going to grind to put myself in the position I am today.
“I’m going to come in and give it everything I got.”
Jenkins’ college starts break down as follows – 26 at center, five at left tackle, two at left guard and one at right tackle. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed only one sack over 762 pass-blocking snaps at center over his final two seasons.
Take a look at photos of the Packers' second round selection, G Elgton Jenkins during his career at Mississippi State.
Jenkins feels he can play any position he’s asked, and he believes he’s a good fit for new Head Coach Matt LaFleur’s outside zone blocking scheme, which he ran all four years at Mississippi State after getting on the field following a redshirt freshman season.
“I feel like I’m quick with my feet,” said Jenkins, noting his best game was probably against Alabama in 2017, his junior season. “I can move people off the ball.”
Last year, his offensive coordinator at Mississippi State was Luke Getsy, who previously was the Packers’ receivers coach and is now back in Green Bay as quarterbacks coach. Walls said Getsy was “fired up” about the selection, calling Jenkins a player the Bulldogs “trusted” up front.
“He’s played a lot of ball, obviously in a tough conference,” Walls said. “I think that puts his maturity ahead of a lot of guys. He’s got a lot of playing experience, a lot of time on the job, and obviously that helps.”