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Saturday Spotlight: Teven Jenkins

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, we’ll spotlight a Bears player in a weekly column. This week, we’ll take an in-depth look at Offensive Lineman Teven Jenkins.

SPORTS-FBN-BEARS-JENKINS-TB Brian Casella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Name: Teven Jenkins

Position: Offensive Lineman

Number: 76

Age: 23

Time with Bears: 1st Season

The Past:

“Coming to this beautiful city of Chicago, I’m really excited. Just ready to get to work.”

Teven Jenkins might be the smartest player on the Chicago Bears.

Recognized as an academic honor roll student all four years of high school, the 6’6”, 310lb lineman from Topeka selected Oklahoma State to play college ball. 247 Sports lists his commitment to the Cowboys in June prior to his senior season, turning down offers from Nebraska, Kansas State, and Missouri.

After a redshirt freshman season in Stillwater, Jenkins began as a backup right guard, but an injury to starting right tackle Zachary Crabtree led to Jenkins first career start at the end of the offensive line against TCU. The 6th-ranked Cowboys lost their first game of the season to the 16th-ranked Horned Frogs, 44-31, and Jenkins found himself on the wrong end of a Not-Top-10 play when he was turned around by a defender and ended up contributing to a sack for his opponent.

Jenkins had other starts that year against Baylor (59-16 win) and Texas (13-10 win), at right guard for those contests. The Cowboys finished 2017 at 10-3 and won the Camping World Bowl against Virginia Tech. Jenkins was a regular contributor on field goal attempts.

Then Crabtree graduated, and Jenkins stepped into a starting role at right tackle for 2018. After the first 5 games, the Cowboys’ starting left tackle (and Jenkins’ future teammate on the Chicago Bears) Arlighton Hambright suffered an ankle injury which took him out for the season. Jenkins filled the left tackle position in the interim while Hambright transferred to Colorado. The Cowboys, colloquially known as the ‘Pokes,’ finished 7-6 in Jenkins’ first year as a starter. After finishing the season returning to right tackle, Jenkins received Honorable Mention awards for the All-Big 12 team.

In 2019, Oklahoma State’s rushing attack became a deadly force in the NCAA. Starting running back Chuba Hubbard cracked 2000 yards rushing, becoming the 32nd player in NCAA history to accomplish the feat and joining Barry Sanders, who owns the NCAA single-season record with 2,850. Hubbard’s success was dependent on strong offensive line play, and Jenkins played with force at both tackle positions yet again in his redshirt-junior year. Jenkins was agains named Honorable Mention All-Big 12 team.

That year, he also had his own personal highlight play, where receiver Tylan Wallace caught a screen pass and Jenkins climbed to the second level to eliminate the safety from the play, setting up a touchdown based on excellent blocking. That play is found here, watch #73. He was also voted as the OSU Thurman Thomas Award recipient, given to the teams’ Most Outstanding Offensive player.

In 2020, the redshirt senior Jenkins continued his dominance in the Big 12 conference, finally earning All-Conference recognition and voted as an Honorable Mention Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year by the conference coaches. He was voted by his own coaches at Oklahoma State as the offensive player of the game twice that season, and yet again found work at both tackle positions, starting at left and flexing to right due to injuries.

Jenkins served twice as team captain that season, his last in Stillwater, as he built a body of work for NFL scouts to consider recommending in the first round. Between the last two years of his college career, he didn’t allow a single sack. Although an injury shortened his season and he opted out for the second half of 2020, he was ready for the bright lights of Sunday football games.

After 35 career starts at Oklahoma State, Jenkins was going to be a professional offensive lineman.

The Bears have made a trade. They send their 2nd round, 3rd round, and 6th round draft picks to the Panthers, moving up from 52 to 39 and receiving a 5th round pick in return.

“With the 39th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select Tevin Jenkins. Tackle. Oklahoma State.”

Asked in a post-draft interview who he models his game after, Jenkins named three-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Taylor Lewan for the Tennessee Titans.

The Present:

Jenkins started more game at right tackle than left in his career at Oklahoma State, but he was often moved around due to injury and played admirably at multiple positions. Diversity and adaptivity will prove consequential for the Bears in the coming years, as Matt Nagy is likely out as head coach soon, with GM Ryan Pace likely following him out the door. There are even rumors of major structural change within the organization, stretching far beyond the coaches and coordinators seen on Sundays.

Jenkins started the year on IR, suffering a back injury which led to surgery and had some concerned about his ability to play at all this year. He returned to action two weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals, finding action on special teams similar to his college beginnings. Then last week against the Packers, he was thrust into action when starting left tackle Jason Peters suffered an injury.

Now the Bears, sitting at 4-9 and locked into a losing season, have an opportunity to play Jenkins without concern about his inevitable rookie growing pains affecting the team’s ability to make playoffs. They drafted him to fill the role of left tackle and support their quarterback of the future, Justin Fields.

The future:

Drafted in the second round this past spring, Teven Jenkins is on a four-year contract which is scheduled to keep him in Chicago until the 2025 offseason. He won’t be up for an extension for a couple years, so look for Jenkins to learn and grow from experiences in this coming offseason and next year. While Bears fans have been robbed of the beauty of his play this season due to his injury, when he does finally start they’ll get a great look at exactly how intelligent of a player Jenkins is on the field.

With Jason Peters missing practice and likely to sit against the Vikings for Monday Night Football, look for another start for Jenkins at left tackle. He should serve well to keep Justin Fields upright, as the young quarterback attempts to even his touchdown-interception ratio - currently sitting at an ugly 6-10 - against a Vikings team on the brink of playoff elimination.

Week 15 prediction:

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