In 2019, new Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor had his first chance to put his handprints on his new team. Coming off of a Super Bowl appearance the previous season with the Los Angeles Rams, Taylor got a late jump on hiring his staff, free agency and just about everything else a head coach needs to get in place. With his relative youth and inexperience at the head coaching level, it certainly wasn’t always the ideal first off-season.
That is until the 2019 NFL Draft came around. With his assistant coaches in place and the major free agency wave complete, the draft served as a starting point for Taylor to reshape the roster. With the 11th selection, Taylor and the Bengals opted to draft offensive tackle Jonah Williams out of Alabama.
Williams missed his rookie campaign with a pectoral injury and saw his sophomore season cut short as well, ending the 2020 season on injured reserve. Injuries and sheer lack of tape on Willams either soured fans on the selection, or lead to optimism for when Williams was able to get a full, healthy season under his belt. The 2021 season brought us just that.
Williams was healthy all season and put together a relatively solid season, but still showed a bit of inconsistency. However, the team clearly saw enough in him as they chose to pick up his fifth-year option.
At the time, Williams was absolutely the right pick. He’s still a solid starter for the Bengals, but I’d swap this one for Eglton Jenkins, who has shown he’s a little better and a lot more versatile. Jenkins has played snaps at right tackle, left tackle, center and left guard for the Packers, and he’s maintained good PFF grades throughout. This past season, with most of his snaps coming at left tackle, Jenkins recorded a career-best 82.1 overall grade.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but there is a case to be made for Jenkins’ versatility having a big impact on an offensive line that has struggled every year since that draft took place. Injuries, inexperience and players playing out of position have all been contributing factors to the offensive line woes and Jenkins’ ability to play all over the line could’ve provided a boost.
There is still plenty of time for Williams to become a cornerstone left tackle, so we’ll see how the potential comparisons look a few years from now.