Some say it takes three years to truly get a grasp of how good a team’s draft class actually turns out to be. By then, players should start to have a sense of what they’re going to be in their career, for the most part.
One way some folks like to characterize those classes, particularly at the top, is to look back and have a theoretical re-do of a previous draft. And in this case, it’s been three years, so Pro Football Focus did just that with the 2019 NFL Draft.
You may recall that was the year the Cincinnati Bengals selected offensive tackle Jonah Williams from Alabama. But looking back, PFF goes in a different direction with this pick.
Instead of Williams, PFF gives the Bengals Elgton Jenkins, the offensive lineman from Ole Miss who was originally selected at No. 44 by the Green Bay Packers.
PFF notes that the Williams pick was the right call at the time for the Bengals, who badly needed offensive tackle help. But in this revisionist mode, the versatility of Jenkins, a 2020 Pro Bowl selection, who has played all over the line for the Packers and quickly has become a mainstay of the unit, overpowers that of Williams:
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.
Williams has been ok to this point, but this makes you wonder how much more effective the Bengals could have been with Jenkins’ versatility. A coach like Frank Pollack certainly would have helped bring out the best in Jenkins, just as Green Bay has to this point.
PFF has the same two players being selected at the top as the original draft: Kyler Murray to the Cardinals and Nick Bosa to the 49ers. The first big change is the Jets taking WR AJ Brown over original pick DL Quinnen Williams.