Chicago Sun-Times

Covering the bases: Four questions for four offensive linemen

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INDIANAPOLIS--Hectic first day at the combine that started with a nifty detour down by Kankakee thanks to the closing of Interstate 65 in Northwest Indiana. We're out trying to gather tidbits and nuggets, or we're going out to do just that.

We'll check back in more on Friday. Right now, let's cover the bases with some of the offensive linemen who visited with media today. Four questions from four linemen:


Will Beatty
Tackle
Connecticut


Q: What have your meetings with teams been like?

A: So far it was like the meetings where they ask you about your weight. Have you got in any trouble? No one has asked too many questions. No one really showed really too much interest in me. At the Senior Bowl I was with Cincinnati but they were actually coaching me so I didn't really get a feel for it. Nobody really tells you too much. Told me to get my weight up. Continue to work. Continue to perform.

Q: What was your weight?

A: My weight at the Senior Bowl was 291. Everyone said I was underweight for a left tackle but I did it a little ill at the Senior Bowl so my weight was down a little but I got it back up to 307. I think it was going from East Coast to West Coast. Played my Bowl game in Canada so all over the place eating a whole bunch of different foods. I wasn't used to it.

Q: How did you put on the weight?

A: To really gain weight all you got to do is eat. But I've been running a lot of 40s and working out, trying to stay in shape. Knowing you have to take your shirt off you don't just want to gain weight, you want to gain good weight. So gaining the weight is a little bit harder. The diet they had me on was basically eating chicken and salads. I don't know how much weight you gain eating chicken and salads but it worked.

Q: People say you have lot of upside. Maybe the most upside of anyone here?

A: I think I have a body that can get better. There's room for improvement. I always say that everyone has room for improvement. So I continue to say I can get better and every time I show up, I show up better.


Herman Johnson
Guard/Tackle
LSU

Q: You were one of the biggest babies in Louisiana history, correct?

A: Yes. I was 15 pounds, 14 ounces. Born in Monroe, La.

Q: What did you weigh in at:

A: Weight? I'm 364 (pounds). I reported at LSU at 411 (as a freshman). I just didn't have the right information as far as nutrition. Right now, where I'm training at, Plex in Stafford, Texas (with trainer Danny Arnold), I sat down with a nutritionist and she said I was eating good food, but I just needed to break it up. They've got me down to six small meals a day. And I drink a gallon of water a day. I spend a little extra time doing cardio. The stuff that they prepare for us is stuff that I can cook.

Q: Were teams telling you to drop weight?

A: A lot of the teams were saying at the Senior Bowl, they said I looked good, but I just didn't see it. A lot of teams were saying it'd be even better if you could drop some weight and show us that you can lose the weight. I did all I could to drop as much weight as I could in as short a period of time as I had. A lot of teams were satisfied.

Q: How did the right tackle experiment at the Senior Bowl go?

A: It was a little weird at first because it's been a while since I've played right tackle. But after the coaching and getting adjusted, I felt real comfortable there. I'll play wherever they want me to play. If they want me to play left guard or right guard or right tackle, I'll do it. I'll do whatever it takes to play. A couple of teams are saying, we know what you can do at guard, but we also want to see what you can do at tackle. Playing guard the majority of my career, actually getting the start at right tackle in the Senior Bowl, everybody was a little surprised. A lot of people were saying that's amazing for a guy your size, adjusting to a new position. I think I did pretty good at it.


Phil Loadholt
Tackle
Oklahoma

Q: Which of the 2008 draft class tackles have you watched?

A: I got to watch Jeff Otah a lot. Looked like he came in and did a good job of fitting in right away. Showed a lot of emotion. I watched him and he looked like a leader out there on the line. I liked to watch him from the past class.

Q: Do you look at taller guys?

A: My favorite player of all-time, Jonathan Ogden, he's about the same height as me, if not taller. Tra Thomas is a tall guy, Flozell Adams all those guys. I've always been watching those guys, to see if they can bend at the knees, not at the hip. You see a lot of guys get low and try to make us bend. I've just been paying attention to those things for a while now.

Q: Do you plan to work out at the combine?

A: I'm excited about the opportunity to compete, come out here and show what I've got compared to all the other guys.

Q: Why do you think you haven't been included in the top tier of tackles in this class?

A: I think I should. I don't know how that all that goes with the gradings and the rankings and all that stuff. All I can do is do everything I'm capable of. The film is on. The film doesn't lie. And then have a good showing here. That's all I can do. I can't control anything else, any rankings or any of that stuff. So I've got to continue to go hard here in the drills the next couple of days. The film doesn't lie. Just let it go from here.


Michael Oher
Tackle
Ole Miss

Q: Do you consider yourself in the conversation with the other elite tackles in the draft.

A: To be honest, I feel that I'm the best at my position. I think I've proven that this year. In everything, I feel I'm going to grade at the top.

Q: Did it make a difference to the other people who played against you for them to learn about you in the book "The Blind Side" by Michael Lewis?

A: I never looked at it like that. There were a lot of people that I don't know coming up to me, saying that I feel that I know you and things like that, knowing that they know about me from the time I was a child up to the time I was about 18 or 19. And a lot of the problems that I had with my family and a lot of the struggles I went through, but things like that never bother me. I've been through a lot of stuff in my life. And things like this [the effects of the book] come easy and natural for me. A lot of times it goes in one ear and out the other.

Q: Which side will you play in the NFL?

A: I think I can play left or right. I'm not worried about the position I want to play. I'm just glad to be getting the opportunity to play in the NFL. Whatever they need me to play, that's where I'll play.

Q: How did your meeting with the Bears go?

A: I think it went really well. We talked for a long time. We talked about plays, technique, the things that. The coach up there (Harry Hiestand) is a great coach.

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20 Comments

Oher looking good, he knows what to say to the coaches. Is he the real thing.

How about Herman Johnson, the biggest baby born in Lousiana history, wow now that has got to be worth some type of draft pick. WOW!!

Angelo knowing that fact might draft him number 1 the 18th pick?

With no free safety worth spending a 1st or 2nd round pick on and thinking Coach Marinelli should get the D-line back to its top form, I want our 18th pick to be an Offensive tackle! Dare I dream it, back-to-back years with 1st round tackles!!! I wouldn't mind a DE in the 2nd round(as long as he doesn't become another Bazuin).

We have to get the QB situation right, but the offensive line is the next priority. I'm hoping Hanie turns out to be the answer at QB. Who knows.

Please, please no one mention using the 1st round pick on a WR. I think the Lions have proven that doesn't work. I think everyone knows already that games are won and lost in the trenches, but sometimes need to be reminded. Those "weapons" aka WRs, don't mean a thing if the QB can't get them the ball.

I wonder if Michael Oher will be our 1st round pick? What do you think Brad?

Jay Lundry wrote:
"Please, please no one mention using the 1st round pick on a WR. I think the Lions have proven that doesn't work. I think everyone knows already that games are won and lost in the trenches, but sometimes need to be reminded. Those "weapons" aka WRs, don't mean a thing if the QB can't get them the ball."

While I agree with your second statement that games are won and lost in the trenches, your first point is just plain wrong. Yes, the Lions have missed on WRs in the first round. But then you ignore the Cards drafting Larry Fitzgerald and the Lions did get a WR with Calvin Johnson. The point is teams miss in the first round with WRs, OTs, LBs, QBs, RBs, TEs, DTs, DEs and CBs. Teams miss because the draft is inexact no matter how much time someone spends in Indy, in the film room looking at prospects and going to games to them play.

What do I want the Bears to do? The same as you -- draft linemen. But I disagree that a few misses by the Lions precludes the drafting of WRs in the first round.

Jay Lundry, I agree with you that the game is won in the trenches, right now ths Bears #1 need is another tackle, if no legit free agent tackle is signed, there is no question a tackle must be the Bears first round pick in april. I would take Britton, Loadholt, or especially Oher if he falls.

This season with the personnel we had at tackle, a swing tackle on the left side, and John Tait, who was probably playing in a lot of pain as the season went on at right tackle, didn't do that bad of a job. Now, so no one misunderstands me, they weren't that great, again, they did as good as a swing tackle & a banged up right tackle could. However, St.Clair or Tait aren't exactly the best pass protectors, and Kyle Orton was under a lot of pressure this season, Orton would use a 3 step drop most of the time to avoid pressure and get rid of the ball, anytime Orton tried a 7 or even 5 step drop he had no time to look down field, to me, this is probably why Orton had trouble with the deep ball. A lot of the Orton bashers [crybabies] can't understand this, or don't want to. If Chris Williams can come in with his athleticism, and either a free agent or one of the above mentioned rookies can man the right tackle job, Orton will improve his ability to go down field by simply having a little more time in the pocket. Better play from the tackle position would help Orton more than a new receiver. Think about it, if Kyle Orton spent most of the season with a three step drop, and put up 2900 yds and 18 tds, [thats almost 3000 plus and 20 plus td passes] think of what he could do in a 5 or 7 step, I think he would be pretty good. Again, as of right now, the Bears need to draft either Britton, Loadholt, or Oher at #18 so GO BEARS!!

MD Kevin all teams miss in the draft that is true but some teams miss more than others. Some teams like Pitt and New England really know how to find there guys.

Also thought you might like to know thatthe word is the Skins are going Oline with there first pick. I think you were hoping for that earlier.

Oh and the Lions got 2 pretty good recievers and traded one. It's not the recievers fault they have had no line and no QB. A good passing game starts on the line.

That said there are four maybe five first round talents at tackle.

Oher is the most gifted but needs to refine his game. He is an Orlando Pace clone. He will not be there when the Bears draft he is just to talented. He can play both tackle positions but he is a waste at RT. He is better than Chris Williams by a bit.

Monroe is a stud and is a lot like Jammal Brown or even Chris Williams if his back holds up. Pure LT, Virginia knows how to build a Pass Blocking athletic LT.

Eben Britton I think Britton is the third best Tackle in the draft, he is an athletic John Tait, he can play both sides but will not be a pro bowler on either side but will be close to that level.

Andre Smith, this is the guy I hope falls to the Bears lot of people say he is the best Tackle in this class, but I disagree. He does not have the feet to be a LT and would fail there at the NFL level. He will however be a All Pro RT, he is a nastier more athletic Jeff Otah. he could spot start at LT but it's just not his position. He would destroy people in the run game on the right side and his Pass blocking would be better than average on that side as well.

Phil Loadholt He is another guy who is a RT at the next level but he could not be a LT in a way shape or form, he may crack the first round. He will be a very good RT for a long time

Beatty is a second round project who needs a year to mature physicaly. Great feet and very very athletic, could be the best LT in this class 3 years from now. Will never have the power to a RT. Oh and there is no chance he put on weight eating chicken and Salad. Thats an atkins diet, no complex carbs means the protien won't stick and the salad flushes everything out of your system and has no calories to boot. He could eat 20 chicken breasts a day and he would not gain weight, he would just go to the bathroom a lot. Someone has been going to McDonalds.

Jason Smith, a lot of people think he is a top 3 tackle. I don't his frame is maxed out and is not going to get much stronger. He is zone LT if ever there was one. Lots of talent but he would over matched outside of a zone scheme.

I hear that Vernon Carey from the Dolphins will be available in free agency. What do you think aobut the Bears going after him to replace John Tait? That way the Bears would get a veteran in his prime that will also be young enough (27) to be on the team for a few years. Then we could look to fill other needs in the draft and get another O lineman in the later rounds. The top four tackles will all be gone by the 13th pick. The rest seem to be graded as late first/early second round projections.

I hope too that the D line and O line are the focus early. J Angelo has grossly overlooked the O line the past few years and has put the team in a real bind. The interior line is in need of some up and coming players as well. Most of the NFC play off teams had strong O lines that allowed them to get into the post season. Lets hope the Bears follow the trend...

I am a mch bigger fan of players like Beatty and Loadholt than Oher and Johnson. Johnson looks like he is overmatched by quicker players, and Oher has been getting flak for not putting the physical tools he has to the best use by not putting it together on the mental side. If he can, he has potentially the best combination of physical tools of any of the prospects short of Davis out of Baylor.

Everything I have seen on Beatty says he is a hard worker who can be a good pass blocker, but he may be a little weak in the run game. Plus he is supposed to be a clear cut left tackle, which we already have in Williams. Would we be in bad shape by having two good pass blockers on the edges? If we claim to be a run-first team, that could pose a problem, because we don't have enough bulk inside to make up for lighter guys on the outside. Beekman and Garza are both a little light. Buenning could be a good run blocker on the left, and on the right, we would need another solid player. Beekman should probably be groomed as Kreutz's replacement if we go that route, and we would need a big RG in free agency or the draft (Goff perhaps?).

Loadholt is a true RT prospect, despite that he played 2 years on the left. He is a plodder, and could be a good run blocker for us. I am concerned about his ability to pass block, but he could be a solid Fred Miller-type player for a number of years. That being said, drafting him any earlier than our second round pick would be reaching for him.

I am glad to hear Biggsy is talking to these guys, and that they are willing to do interviews with media rather than just focusing on the team interviews. Every little bit of exposure helps I guess.

We need a ton of help on the o line this year during the offseason, so every guy we can learn more about is a big step forward.

With this year's crop of draftees, seeing how things shake down will be interesting. I suspect there will be some good o-line players available and a good defensive end who can pass-rush. If the Bears' defense gets back to its potential,and the running game allows ball control, even ugly-bearded and inaccurate-armed Orton should look pretty good. I sometimes think first round picks are a bit overrated. Maybe that's because the Bears have blown so many, but good bargains always seem to emerge in second to fourth round picks.Bradley was a good example, but the Bears traded him before he was able to show his receiving skills.

I am among many who would be thrilled if the Bears drafted another tackle with the number 1 spot. Everything starts with the line and if we can have 2 first round talents for years to come I can only imagine how solid the line could be. Add a center to groom under Kreutz and let the competition between Garza and Buenning begin. If Buenning wins the battle, Garza is a very capable back up...he just seems to have lost a step.

FA is a week away. GO BEARS.

I agree with Jay Lundry about selecting WR's in the 1st round, but for a different reason. There seems to be more busts at WR in the 1st round than any other position. Remember that Fitzgerald went #3 and Johnson went #2 (and Crabtree should go top 5).

I am in total agreement with picking an OT with our 1st round pick. Either that or trade down to get an additional 2nd rounder (which Angelo is very fond of doing) and select both OT and WR in the 2nd round. Any ways, go Bears!!!

I don't understand what has happened to the traditional Big 10 lineman of the late 80's and mid 90's. Is there anyone coming out of the Big 10 that could fit into the Bears running game and also transition to the midwestern temperament of the team concept? I would also like to add a name to the veteran QB derby that you have all passed over: Jon Kittna. Is he injured and done or is he available and able to still throw like he did two years ago in Detroit? This guy could back up Orton and give him some serious competition for the next year or two. It's stopgap, but it opens up your passing game and gives the young QBs a mentor.

MD Kevin,

Hey buddy, I'm not just talking about the Lions. Look at the Patriots in the Superbowl, a great QB and two good WRs, still no win. The Cardinals have THREE great WRs, still no win. In both games it was because the game was won in the trenches. The Giants D-line came alive in the 4th quarter and dominated and the Cardinals O-line couldn't protect Warner. Just two examples of many.

I'm sure their are great WRs to be had in the 1st round every year, however, the offense isn't great because of the reciever, the offense is successful because of the QB and the O-line protection. Taking an O-lineman makes more sense with the 1st pick than a WR. Berrian and Booker were 3rd round picks and proven to be good enough. Hell, Booker holds the Bears single season receptions record and was an All-Pro.

So maybe taking a WR in the 1st round could prove to be beneficial, however, I personally think the O-lineman and D-lineman have much more value. Here's hoping for another 1st round tackle. Of course, I wanted to draft Auburn guard Ben Grubbs back in 2007.

Jay\Creighton,

I disagree with the two of you (Creighton said it earlier) that a good safety cannot be had in the first 2 rounds. Mizzou's William Moore could very well be available and has great range, size, and knack for the ball. Creighton as much as I like to argue with you and some of the other guys, I'd like your take on him. I have said before that I think he's a better prospect than Mays who is returning for his senior season.

Of course, last season Chicago could have used one their FOUR 7th round picks to grab Josh Barrett and I'm still VERY bitter about that. He may never make a Pro Bowl but look at his production over the last 6 games of last season in Denver and he's starting to build his case. How can you NOT draft a guy who's known as a PROTOTYPE FREE SAFETY (not my words other scouts) for the Cover 2 and who's still available in the 7th damn round?!?! Granted in full disclosure I am a USC fan and watch A GOD AWFUL LOT of Pac-10 football each season.

Finally, in my perfect world Jeremy Maclin falls to Chicago, we pull the trigger and Chicago spends the next several season with a true #1 WR.

I'm currently watching the replay of the Senior Bowl, and am really enjoying watching Herman Johnson. If Maclin falls to us in the 1st Rd, There's no doubt you have to grab him...and grabbing Johnson in the 2nd Rd would be great. I've mentioned him before when talking about Guards, and if he can fill in @ RT ..even better. Then down the road if some super-stud is available ,move him back inside. Leonard Davis was a can't miss tackle, and now the dudes a beast on the interior line.

Creighton mentioned Smith from 'Bama possibly being available. A month ago he was either 1 or 2 overall in just about every mock I saw, and now for some reason he is dropping. This is definetly a scenario that could possibly happen....would be a tough call if both Smith AND Maclin were available! I'd have to go w/ Smith ( much more urgency due to the Tait news).

Jay and Creighton,

You guys both came back with points about the need for OL. I agree. But you are missing the point. You can't prove or disprove that drafting a WR is wrong based on the Lions sorry record with WRs. Jay wrote "please no one mention using the 1st round pick on a WR. I think the Lions have proven that doesn't work."

If Crabtree were to be available you would still take an OL?

Again look back at Jay's statement of fact that 1st Rd WRs are busts and it does not hold water. In fact it is plain wrong.

Do we have a greater need on the line, OL esp? Yup. I expect that will be our focus. That we agree on.

But in making your opinion known for why we need OL help you used an incorrect fact that drafting a WR in the 1st "doesn't work". It does just not all that often and perhaps a reason why no WR was drafted in the 1st round last year -- first time in 20 years.

I do not understand why Da Coach is mad at the Bears 7th round draft picks. we picked exactly what we needed, a couple of good young Offensive linemen to develope. What? you thought we needed to pick offensive linemen earlier that didn't need developed and would be starting by this year? (maybe one of them w/o a bad back) How silly, you really need to read the Jerry Angelo Offensive Draft Guide for dummys. Then maybe you can write more sensible blogs on the Bears drafting abilities. ;}

MD Kevin,

Let me try to make myself clear. I could use a 1st round pick on a WR IF I was set at the QB, O-line, D-line, linebacker, CB, FS and RB positions and I liked what I saw in the WR. NO way in this years draft would I even think about taking Crabtree over an O-lineman. Just to answer your question. Also, I never said that 1st round WR are always busts, I was just pointing out that they don't have a lot of value when the QB can't get them the ball.

I agree with you about my statement regarding the Lions, it was somewhat wrong. However, it does show you that taking the big "weapon" WR doesn't mean your offense will succeed. Look at Lions WR Calvin Johnson, he was built up more than Crabtree and the Lions didn't win one game with him. Why, because the QB and O-line is more important than the WR position.

Again, I'm NOT saying that all WRs taken in the 1st round are busts, I certainly don't think Calvin Johnson is a bust(needs a QB though). MD Kevin, you put those words in my mouth from how you translated my posts.

I would love to have Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Smith on the Bears, but only if my offensive and defensive lines are good, and more importantly, if we have a good QB. Otherwise, what good would they be?

Jay Lundry: Let me try to make myself clear. I could use a 1st round pick on a WR IF I was set at the QB, O-line, D-line, linebacker, CB, FS and RB positions and I liked what I saw in the WR. NO way in this years draft would I even think about taking Crabtree over an O-lineman."

And thus you break the cardinal rule of NFL drafting: take the best player available.

You would rather select the 3rd or 4th best option on o-line than take the best WR in the draft who on most value boards is a blue chip #1 or #2 overall player? If you say yes then you need to learn more about drafting. Is there something that says Chicago couldn't trade up to get a tackle later or use the 50th overall pick on such?

It's a moot point because Crabtree - foot and all - will be well off the board by the time Chicago picks but if Jeremy Maclin is still there then I am all for getting him as well.

Free agency starts shortly and THAT is where Chicago needs to find their right tackle. In a separate thread Kevin Armstead provided some good food for thought on who's available including Khalif Barnes, Ray Willis and Tyson Clabo.

Jay,

I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree. Your initial post you wrote: "Please, please no one mention using the 1st round pick on a WR. I think the Lions have proven that doesn't work."

Your latest one now says "Also, I never said that 1st round WR are always busts, I was just pointing out that they don't have a lot of value when the QB can't get them the ball."

They don't agree and I am only quoting you.

The rest of your postings about drafting OL is spot on.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 19, 2009 8:47 PM.

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