The Cowboys have already been hit by the injury bug at offensive tackle as 2022 fifth-round pick, Matt Waletzko, injured his shoulder to the point that he will undergo surgery to repair it. Coach Mike McCarthy said this earlier in the week about Waletzko’s status:
“I think it’s going to be when [he’s going to have surgery]or can he get through [without it]. He’s a rookie, we don’t really know until we see him move in the weight room, strength levels and all that. Obviously, he’s a medical evaluation.”
Based on the type of injury it is, as well as Coach McCarthy’s comments, it doesn’t appear that we will be seeing Waletzko anytime soon. This is a big blow to the swing tackle competition. This situation could be essentially another redshirt year at the position that had last year’s fourth-round pick, Josh Ball, sitting out all of last season. Potentially having two developmental offensive tackle prospects sitting out all year in back-to-back seasons is not ideal because as developmental prospects, reps are so important.
At the moment, it appears that Josh Ball is firmly in the driver’s seat for the swing tackle position entering the 2022 season, and based on reports coming out of training camp, Ball looks much better and more comfortable in his second season with the Cowboys.
This is a promising sign, but it is still very early to rule out the Cowboys acquiring another tackle to provide not only some much needed depth, but some quality competition for Josh Ball.
There is one name in particular that could give Dallas some depth at the offensive tackle position, and it’s Chicago’s 2021 second-round pick, Teven Jenkins. Jenkins’ days with the Chicago Bears could be numbered as it is being reported that he is being shopped around on the trade market. Jenkins career in Chicago hasn’t really gotten any traction as he was only just a few practices into camp last year when he injured his back which cost him the majority of his rookie season. Coming into year two, it appeared he would get the first crack into the starting lineup at right tackle and was promptly demoted in favor of Larry Borom who was drafted in the fifth round in last year’s class along with Jenkins. In addition to the demotion, NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan reported that coaches and Teven Jenkins aren’t exactly seeing eye to eye. It was also noted that he’s the teams most talented offensive lineman but is very immature.
Based on the information available, Jenkins and the new regime, consisting of new general manager Ryan Poles and new head coach Matt Eberflus, simply aren’t clicking, and a divorce could be coming any day.
Drama aside, coming out of Oklahoma State, Jenkins was one of the top offensive line prospects in the 2021 draft class.
Some pundits even had a first-round grade on him. According to the scouts at NFL Draft Buzz, he graded out as a 97 overall in run blocking and 88 overall in pass blocking. Those are high marks that cannot be overlooked. His best position is right tackle but he has experience playing every position on the line aside from center. He also has a mean streak and loves to finish plays with tenacity. Jenkins also possesses good instincts and is very athletic when he gets to the next level. There is no question that the ability is there and if anyone can get the most out of an offensive lineman, it is offensive line coach Joe Philbin. Philbin has been coaching at a high level for over 20 years and is a well-respected offensive line coach.
Typically you don’t see second-round picks from the year prior being shopped around. With how public this situation has gotten, the price to acquire Jenkins may be less than it should be. Rumored maturity issues aside, Jenkins clearly has the skills to be a very good player in the NFL for a long time. If it only costs a late-round pick, then that is a small price to pay to see if a fresh change of scenery could help get the most out of him. If the price is right, Dallas should kick the tires on swinging a deal to shore up the swing tackle position.