Adam Jahns at The Athletic on new Bears offensive tackle Tevin Jenkins:
In a Zoom call with Chicago media, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy continuously stressed that challenging Jenkins would be crucial to his development and success at the NFL level.
“He’s just started to really get into football over the last 18 months,” Gundy said. “Now I know that sounds funny, but when you’re as gifted and talented as he is, you can get by being a good college football player without having that grit and toughness like he’s just developed over the last 18 months. So he really brought that to our program just recently.”
The Bears will want it as soon as he settles into his locker at Halas Hall. Gundy’s comments did have a “red flag” vibe to it. Dan Pompei, a national writer for The Athletic, wrote on Monday that some teams had questions about his commitment level before his final season at Oklahoma State. Scouts surveyed by Bob McGinn before the draft raised concerns, too.
“This year, he played mean,” a scout told McGinn. “In 2019, there were times you scratched your head and said, ‘What the hell are you doing, man? Get after it.’ He’s got kind of a soft personality, but if you watch the 2020 film, he’s not soft. Talent-wise, it’s there.”
Gundy indicated that a change in Jenkins on and off the field occurred.
“You look at him and you say it took that long for (him) to realize that (he was) a special talent and it really did with him, because he had such a laid-back personality and I don’t think he ever saw himself being that good of a football player,” Gundy said. “That’s why I’m saying, ‘Within the next couple years, the NFL is going to be really shocked at what you have.’ Because when we asked him and challenged him to be as good as he can be and dominate a player, we had a lot of success with him on those days.”
These comments do, indeed, have a “red flag vibe”. But I’m going to say that the Bears were thinking about Jenkins fit with them specifically when they drafted him and that may have made this a good pick.
The hunch here is that the Bears had offensive line coach Juan Castillo in mind when considering Jenkins. Unlike his predecessor, Harry Heistand, who was reputedly more of a technician, Castillo is a motivator. Two minutes of listening to him talk tells you that.
I do have concerns about Jenkins. Most evaluators saw him as strictly a right tackle and the indications are that the Bears would like to see him start on the left side. Along with the selection of huge fifth rounder Larry Borom,it seems that the Bears are going size, strength and aggressiveness over mobility on the outside and that makes me wonder about what speed rushers will do to them.
And, personally, I haven’t been overly impressed by Castillo and I don’t think he got the most out of the Bears offensive linemen last year. But I think there’s a good chance that he can get the most of out Jenkins and that could make the difference.