So the news came in early Wednesday morning. It’s true, Teven Jenkin’s back injury is more serious than the team let on. Teven Jenkins will have back surgery and will miss the majority of the 2021 season. Jenkins will likely miss the entire season. This is a huge blow to the Chicago Bears plans and to Jenkins as a prospect.
For weeks now Bears fans have been wondering what is happening with the Bear’s second-round pick. Without barely beginning the offseason program, Jenkins injured his back and was on the sidelines for the beginning of camp. Now there is news this injury has followed Jenkins from college and the collective sigh from Bears Nation can be heard all the way where I’m sitting in Arizona.
Jenkins is another prospect that Ryan Pace traded up to land. He looked great and I personally loved the move when Pace made it. But this has been a fatal flaw of Ryan Pace. Too often he has moved up to draft players, selling off draft picks and those players have not produced. It’s great for fans, it is often fatal for organizations.
Trader Ryan moved up two spots to land Leonard Floyd, he didn’t make a second contract with the Bears. Pace moved up one spot to land Mitch Trubisky at the expense of multiple draft picks including a pick that became Alvin Kamara. Again, Trubisky didn’t make it to his second contract.
The Bears made multiple trades in 2021 and once again one pick seems like it may have failed before it began. I am not going to say Teven Jenkins is a bust but this is an ominous sign. Offensive tackles generally struggle bouncing back from back surgeries. I’m rooting for him because he seems like a great kid and an excellent talent. If he does bounce back, he will be an outlier. The fact the Bears gave up a third-round pick only compounds the bad news, this is not a good sign for Ryan Pace and his staff.
So Many Questions
Teven Jenkins was the guy many folks had landing in Chicago with their 20th overall pick. He is a great prospect. His tape shows a big, powerful man that knows how to leverage his body. He has small arms and many scouts thought he could move inside and be a dominant guard. Jenkins mostly played right tackle for Oklahoma State. That was because a true freshman was forced into action and felt more comfortable at left tackle. Jenkins played a lot of left tackle throughout his career at OSU.
The issue of concern is the news that Jenkins may have had medical evaluations dating from his college days that showed signs of a back injury. Were these back concerns a reason why Jenkins fell on draft day? Were the Bears aware of this injury and chose to move up regardless? With Jenkins sitting there at pick 39, Pace jumped up to grab him. The Bears gave up picks 52, 83, and 204 and in return received picks 39(Jenkins) and 151(Larry Borom). Jenkins is a high investment that has come crashing down. The question is, did the Bears know and roll the dice or did their medical staff miss the severity of this issue? Going under the knife is never a good sign.
The signs were there. As the back injury lingered Matt Nagy continued to say that Jenkins was experiencing back tightness. Most savvy Bears fans saw this coming, even if we didn’t want to admit it. I had bad flashbacks of Chris Williams who endured a similar fate to that of Teven Jenkins. Williams never came back in good shape for the Bears and he was gone by his 4th year with the team. I pray this isn’t Jenkins’s fate but as of right now, things don’t look good.
Due to the Fields trade, the Bears will once again be without a first-round draft pick. Offensive tackles, much like quarterbacks tend to thrive in the first round. After the first round it is a crapshoot. Jenkins’s tape looked great but the Bears will be in a tough spot once again at the tackle position in 2022. That’s not considering what comes next in 2021. Trying to groom a young quarterback to be the franchise player for the next decade should come with building the best offensive line money or high draft picks can buy.
The Bears will need to do everything in their power to protect Fields going forward. For now, they will get by with Elijah Wilkerson, Germain Ifedi, and newly signed Jason Peters. As soon as Peters was signed the Bears fans knew. We didn’t want to wash the shine off of the Justin Fields experience but deep down we knew something was up with Jenkins.
Jason Peters is a hall of fame candidate and he came cheap but at 39 years old the question remains how much does he have left? Will he be able to put together a full season? He is pairing with his old Eagles coach in Juan Castillo. Castillo should know how to get the best out of Peters but the Bears have a rough schedule filled with great pass rushers as their opponents. 2021 could get ugly on the outside which would hamper their playoff plans and could tarnish Justin Fields development.
The Jenkins injury is unsettling and it is a problematic pattern that has developed in Ryan Pace’s reign. Trade ups are so exciting, I love the idea of going to get your guy but trade ups cost depth especially along the offensive line and in the secondary. Those two units just so happen to be the biggest question marks for the Bears headed into the 2021 season. With the news that Jenkins will in all likelihood miss the whole of the upcoming season, the Bears need to take a deep look at everything they are doing in their front office and see how they can get better.
I loved Jenkins’s tape, I loved his attitude and I hope he bounces back and can be a 10-year starter for the Bears. History, however, is not on his side. He will have to work harder than he ever has and he is already behind the eight ball. Bad news today, injuries are such a buzzkill. This one hurts and the Bears will feel the pain all year.