GREEN BAY — With an opening at right guard and a potential opening next year at right tackle, it seemed like a safe bet that the Green Bay Packers would add to their offensive line group during Day 2 of the NFL draft.
And they did — with a center. Sort of.
After spending their two first-round selections on defense Thursday, adding Michigan outside linebacker Rashan Gary and Maryland safety Darnell Savage, general manager Brian Gutekunst moved to the other side of the ball to take Mississippi State offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins with the Packers’ second-round pick (No. 44 overall) on Friday night.
Jenkins started all 26 of Mississippi State’s games at center over the past two seasons, but he played all five spots on the offensive line during his career and will start out at guard in Green Bay.
The Packers will have an open competition for the starting right guard job, with holdovers Justin McCray and Lucas Patrick competing with free-agent addition Billy Turner and now Jenkins, who college scout Charles Walls said will start out working at guard. Next year, they could be in the market for a starting right tackle, as veteran Bryan Bulaga is entering the final year of his contract.
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“We took him as a guard, but you watch the tape, you feel comfortable putting him anywhere you need him to be,” Walls said. “Definitely a light bulb goes off when a guy with that much value, that much versatility falls to you.”
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Jenkins, who turns 24 in December, grew up in Clarksdale, Miss., and was a three-star recruit coming out of high school. He redshirted his first year at Mississippi State, then played in eight games in his first two active seasons — six at left tackle and two at left guard.
He moved to center as a junior in 2017 and started every one of the Bulldogs’ games there after that.
“I feel like I can play all positions,” Jenkins said. “Right now, they’re looking at me at guard. But I feel like I can play all the positions on the line."
New Packers quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy was Mississippi State’s offensive coordinator last season.
Six picks after the Packers took Jenkins, their NFC North rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, took Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. with the 50th overall pick. Smith’s father, Irv Smith Sr., was a first-round pick out of Notre Dame in 1993 and played seven NFL seasons as a tight end for three teams.
Jason Wilde covers the Packers for ESPN Wisconsin. Listen to him with former Packers and Badgers offensive lineman Mark Tauscher weekdays from 9-11 on “Wilde & Tausch” on your local ESPN station.