Is there any truth to Steelers interest in OT Teven Jenkins?

Offensive lineman Teven Jenkins #73 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Offensive lineman Teven Jenkins #73 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) /

Teven Jenkins is a player who is projected to fall to Pittsburgh’s range in the first round of the NFL Draft, but do the Steelers really have interest?

For months, Steelers fans have been hoping that offensive tackle is a position they would consider taking in the first round. Alejandro Villanueva proved to be just a shade of his former self last year and it seems unlikely he will re-sign with Pittsburgh this offseason. Meanwhile, Chukwuma Okorafor really struggled at right tackle in 2020, while Zach Banner (who was just given a two-year, $9.5 million deal) has just 2 career starts by the age of 27.

Outside of quarterback, I could make a strong case that offensive tackle is one of the most important positions in all of football, and the current group of tackles on the team is less than spectacular. Fortunately, the 2021 NFL Draft happens to be loaded with offensive tackles near the top. One of those players who has recently drawn a lot of buzz is Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins.

Jenkins is a lot of fun to watch. He was an absolute mauler in the running game, and he admittedly never passes up an opportunity to drive a defender into the turf. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded out as the 3rd-best tackle in college football last year out of 451 qualifying players with an overall grade of 92.0. Additionally, Jenkins tested as a 97th percentile athlete among NFL tackles, according to his Relative Athletic Score.

Do the Steelers really have interest in Jenkins?

To me, it’s not a question about whether Teven Jenkins is worth the 24th overall pick in the draft; rather, do the Steelers actually have interest in taking him with that selection? The ‘Jenkins to Steelers’ talk really heated up after Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline reported that three players are in contention for Pittsburgh in the first round: running back Najee Harris, center Landon Dickerson, and offensive tackle Teven Jenkins.

I am a big fan of Jenkins and I love the fact that he was recently labeled as a strong candidate for the Steelers. I just don’t know if I buy into this.

Typically, there are certain things that must happen during the offseason in order for a player to be on Pittsburgh’s radar with their first-round pick. For starters, head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert typically must be on hand to watch. The next thing we look for is to see if the player earned a virtual visit with the team. In this case, however, there has been no confirmation that any such visit between Jenkins and the Steelers ever occurred.

In addition to this, there are some general boxes that Jenkins doesn’t check when looking at Pittsburgh’s draft history of first-round picks under Kevin Colbert. At 23 years old, Jenkins would be the second-oldest player drafted in the first round since Kendall Simmons in 2002 (the only player older was Jarvis Jones in 2013). On top of this, the Steelers typically don’t target Big 12 Conference players this early in the draft, and the fact that Jenkins was just a right tackle in the Big 12 is a bit of a head-scratcher.

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I am a big Teven Jenkins fan, and I hope that there is truth to the report that he is in contention for the Steelers with the 24th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, based on what we know about Pittsburgh’s offseason and their history of drafting players in the first round, I would be a bit skeptical about this.