If Teven Jenkins is as good as his quote about his mean streak, the Bears have themselves a right tackle.
“My edge to me is about being able to finish anybody in the dirt,” said Jenkins, a 6-5, 317-pound offensive tackle from Oklahoma State and the Bears’ second-round (39th overall) draft pick. “I don’t care who you are lining up against me. I don’t care what you earn. I don’t care who you are, I’m going to attack you.
“I want to impose my will against another man and use that force against him until he gets worn out and tired. And I don’t care how long it takes. I’m going to do that 24/7 and I’m going to do that all game.”
The NFL has a way of dousing that youthful exuberance in a hurry, but until proven otherwise, Jenkins’ enthusiasm will carry him right into Halas Hall with high hopes of filling the Bears’ glaring opening at right tackle. While Jenkins also prides himself on his versatility — working on a left-handed stance last season and even taking snaps at center — it’s more likely the Topeka, Kan. native will be plugged into right tackle the first day he steps on the field and stay there.
That’s how big the hole is there after Bobby Massie was cut in the offseason. Veteran Germain Ifedi filled in after Massie suffered a knee injury in Week 8 against the Saints. But general manager Ryan Pace’s aggressive move to jump from 52nd to 39th in the second round of the draft Friday night to get Jenkins signaled the urgency of the matter. Jenkins was drafted to start as a rookie.
And Jenkins sounded eager for the opportunity and the challenge. Jenkins was rated the fourth-best tackle in this year’s draft by many scouts and many mock drafts had the Bears taking him at No. 20.
“One thing I’m definitely going to do is keep putting out the effort on and off the field,” Jenkins said. “[Being] more of a presence around the field, in the weight room on the practice [field] — everything I can do to get on the field as soon as I can. And … bring the attitude like I did at Oklahoma State and make sure I can prove a lot of people wrong and [prove] the Chicago Bears made the right choice with me.”
Pace said the Bears had a first-round grade on Jenkins and pounced when the opportunity presented itself. “We felt fortunate to to get up and get him,” Pace said. “Best player on our board, a premier position. Really felt like there would be a run on offensive linemen [at that point].”
Jenkins’ versatility and toughness was the lure. Though primarily a right tackle at Oklahoma State, Jenkins played both tackle spots and both guard spots. He eventually could replace Charles Leno at left tackle.
“We feel his best fit is at either tackle spot,” Pace said. “A powerful tackle. He can bend. He can play with leverage. He consistently moves guys out in the run game, which is awesome to see. He’s got athletic ability to get to the second level and block in space. In pass [protection], a really good anchor, so he handles power really well.”
And then, of course, there’s that mean streak.
“He played with a lot of toughness and finish,” Pace said. “We went into this draft looking for that trait and he definitely has that toughness, that nasty style of play. We’re excited about this addition.”
Jenkins, 23, was a three-year starter at Oklahoma State and did not allow a sack in the last two years. His NFL role model is Titans three-time Pro Bowl tackle Taylor Lewan, “his nastiness, his athleticism and his consistency,” he said.
Now it’s up to Bears offensive line coach Juan Castillo to turn Jenkins into that kind of player.
“Castillo does an unbelievable job developing these guys,” Pace said. “There are just certain coaches in the league that you know when you put a young player in their room you just have so much confidence they are going to grow and develop. Juan just has a long history of that. We are excited to put Teven with Juan and watch Teven grow under his guidance.”