Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, March 13: Weighing the options at right tackle

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Busy day so let's get to it. We'll reach for the mailbag three times next week--Monday, Wednesday and Friday--as the minicamp from Tuesday to Thursday is going to alter our schedule. Send your questions in now.

Q: Do you think it would be a prudent move to look at Kevin Shaffer, released by the Browns, as another option to the John St. Clair waiting game? He's an eight-year veteran that is younger than St. Clair. Shaffer failed as a left tackle but performed reasonably well as a right tackle, especially two seasons ago.

Adam P. Winnipeg, Manitoba

A: Shaffer would be worth a look but after polling some people around the league, the feeling is there is a chance he will re-sign with the Browns. Shaffer was cut loose by Cleveland on Thursday so the Browns wouldn't be on the hook for a roster bonus that was due today. We first floated the possibility in our blog post on Thursday when we reported that John Tait had officially filed his retirement papers. Tony Grossi, a longtime Browns' beat writer, reports that Shaffer is mulling over a return at a reduced salary.

I asked one personnel boss in another city what he would do at right tackle if he was calling the shots for the Bears. Pick between St. Clair, Shaffer and Marvel Smith, another free agent on the street. He said he'd take St. Clair, primarily because he knows the offense. The source said he didn't like Shaffer and would be too weary of Smith being injured. Thing is, there could be more players heading to the open market. Two league sources said Friday that Cincinnati has been trying to trade offensive tackle Levi Jones for a couple weeks. The belief is if the Bengals can't find a taker, they will release him soon. Jones has strictly played left tackle and would likely command more money than these other options.

The more we think about this, it's not going to be catastrophic if St. Clair or another right tackle is not in place for minicamp. It won't even be a big deal. This is practice without pads. No hitting. This isn't where an offensive line is built. The offense will be able to run every play in the playbook and then some with Cody Balogh, Pat Mannelly or pick-your-favorite-high school lineman standing over there. Would it be nice to have your starter who is penciled in for the year? Sure. But right tackle or no right tackle, it won't be an impediment in a session that is nothing but shadow blocking for linemen.

Q: What is the Bears' history as far as bringing in players for private workouts before the draft and their selection on draft day? Do they use the private visits just for lower-round prospects to not give away their draft plans?

Aaron, Normal, Ill.

A: Typically, the Bears bring in players for official visits to Halas Hall who they are looking at later in the draft or as a possible undrafted free agent. They might want to get to know the player a little better, or get a better handle on a medical issue with a player. That's not to say the team has never brought in top prospects. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris made a visit in 2004 in the weeks leading up to the draft, coming in the day after the team hosted another tackle, Vince Wilfork. But often times the pre-draft visits are just smokescreens. Obviously, if you've got a very high pick, it makes sense to roll a handful of players through because with that kind of investment, you should probably kick the tires as often as you can before you buy. Teams are allowed to bring in a maximum of 30 out-of-town players and these are not for workouts. If you want to work a player out, that has to be done at his school.

Q: With all the talk about the offensive line, how come we never hear much about Dan Buenning? He has good size, was a starter in the league and knows the system now. Do you have a read on him as far as taking a job from one of the guards and upgrading the position?

Duane, Rockford, Ill.

A: I've gotten numerous questions regarding Buenning over the last few weeks and we should get a somewhat better idea when we see minicamp next week. With the club paying Frank Omiyale $6.3 million of the $11.5 million in his four-year deal this year, it's pretty fair to assume the Bears want him to start. If he somehow ends up at right tackle, not out of the realm of possibility, that would open up more room for competition inside. Right now, I think he's going to be projected as a backup but it's awful early and things can change. Remember, Buenning got work as the backup center last year. It will be interesting to see who that duty falls to this season. We expect Omiyale to challenge immediately at left guard.

Q: When I hear things like ``that guy just ran himself into (or out of) the NFL'' with performance at the combine or the campus workouts it makes me wonder what the scouts do all year with game tapes. The Northwestern receiver, Eric Peterman, had big games all year. I frankly have never understood the love affair with 40 times as they are not run when a receiver has been mugged for three quarters, is in pads and perhaps freezing his behind off. What do you think?

Bob K., Chicago

A: You make a good point. Some of the top picks at receiver over the last two decades or so have been some of the fastest guys and they've been flat-out busts. But a scout needs more to go on than "he looked fast on film." It's a league based on speed and everybody wants more of it. Certainly, game production is more significant. The 40 times are what help people separate when it comes to evaluation time. What the scouts do, or try to do, is also judge a player's game speed. Some of the fastest guys out there don't play fast on the field when they're running their routes. They don't get in and out of breaks cleanly. They don't have good hips. So there is a lot more that goes into it. Unfortunately, measuring game speed isn't as simple as clicking a stopwatch, and a kid with Peterman's size--6-foot, 200 pounds--had better have some speed to him.

Thank you for all of the participation and questions. As always, thanks for reading. Have a good weekend. We'll check in with a post or two over the weekend or as news dictates.

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Tonight I walked in on Kyle Orton making love to my wife.....and it was the most beautiful things that I've ever seen!!!!!!!!.......Orton Rules!!!!!!!!!!

Hi Brad,

Though some folks may disagree, I think that Devin Hester has demonstrated great promise as a wide receiver. His return skill production for 2008 greatly diminished. Hester made some poor decisions while returning some balls last year and he put the Bears in the hole quite a few times. D. Manning stood out last year as a returner, but not so much as a defensive back. Manning has proven that he has good hands, outstanding speed, and the guy knows how to run north. I wonder if the Bears might be best served trying him out at receiver as well. He is much bigger and stronger than Hester and the Bears don't seem to consider him a first team defender - more as a backup.

I have to disagree with you about Lance Moore. Len Pasquarelli from ESPN had this to say:
"A former undrafted free agent (Toledo), Moore is quick, dynamic and runs precise pass routes. Think of Wes Welker (New England), with more speed and wiggle. We normally don't recommend a player with second-round compensation, BUT MOORE IS MORE ACCOMPLISHED THAN ANY WIDE RECEIVER A TEAM CAN DRAFT IN THE SECOND ROUND. And wide receiver is a position where players don't exactly thrive as rookies. Moore is only 25, and he might be worth sacrificing a No. 2 pick to get. He had 79 catches for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns, playing in all 16 games (six starts), in 2008."
All due respect Brad, he'd be the best receiver the Bears have had in a long time. Your comment about the search for a prototypical wide receiver are absurd. The Bears will never pay that kind of money for a FA with those physical attributes and outstanding skills and the draft is hit or miss at best. So I'll disagree with you and say this move is absolutely necessary for the Bears.

Hey Brad,

As a fustrated Bears fan explain to me why the bears continually nickel and dime there own free agents such as St Clair. And are not willing to address a struggling offense via free agency, making us believe Earl Bennett and Devin Hester as wide receivers will bring home a Super Bowl. Then signing a guy that a video title "how not to play safety" was made from doesn't exactly boost confidence.

Hester is listed at 5-11 190 pounds.

D.Manning is listed at 5-11 200 pounds.

Manning has played SS - FS - NB - CB and KR so far in his short career, I think he would be messed up for good if they work him out as a WR.

They already have one player they are trying to develop in Hester plus Bennett and Rideau need the opportunity to play otherwise we may never know what they can do. Most experts are predicting the Bears will select WR Darrius HeyWard-Bey at #18 so moving Manning to WR now would only cause more congestion in an area that has no real established veteran other then the much maligned Rasheed Davis.

If they wanted to try Manning on Offense he may be be best served to try out as a RB.

ESPN Free Agent Listings

If you click on Tackle they still list Barnes? Is he still available?
There are quite a few options - I am wondering why the Bears do not sign a perennial backup as they did Omiyale, who might start for us, and considering the void at that position (I figure on them signing St. Clair myself) signing even a backup at this point would seem smart

Would anyone else try to trade the 2nd round pick for Jason Peters?

Whats up Brad you still think St. Clair signs by the end of the week?

Randy Barnes is still out there, but he will cost some money and he has character issues. The Bears prefer to go after Clair who is not very good and is cheap, but knows the system. It would be much to hard to find a OT that would allow Orton to do all those 3 step drops. I mean really can you think of any OT in the NFL that can protect a QB on a 3 step drop? Clair was so good at it he was rated 30th is sacks allowed last year, that means there were 2 whole guys worse than him. Who needs a RT when you have none. The Bears think Williams will be so good that he will play both positions every game. Orton will not only be the QB but the new number 1 reciever and he will also be playing two ways as are new star FS.

Were close, real, real, close.

Hey, NeckBeardRules. I can't tell you how excited I would be if the whole Bears' roster, coaching staff, and management would make love to my wife. At least I'd have one up on that delusional cheeseball Bill Holland, who has all of their phone numbers on speed dial and regularly leaves them sexy voicemails. I'm beginning to think Bill's input is the reason Jerry Angelo has been so great in the first round of the draft.

Peter gave up more sacks last year than any other starting LT. Thats why the Pro Bowl has become a joke. His weight is also a problem and I doubt Buffalo who already has problems with there Oline gives up Peters. The need a Center in the worse way.

I agree with you here Creighton, what's the deal with St. clair and why isn't he signed yet? We know we need a tackle, Tait is now official what's the problem money?? What are the numbers Brad?? what is St. clair asking for, I can't believe it would be more than 3-3.8 per year over 3-4 yrs., if he thinks he worth more than that after only one year as a starter he's crazy, we weren't even paying Tait that much cash...... I find it interesting that Barnes has got nothing in terms of real offers as well, but I wonder if we could entice Orlando Pace to come on board for a 2-3 yr deal worth 18-22 mil, he would add instant credibility and by playing on the right side extend his career....I also think Balough may surprise in camp the real camp not next week, if he bulks up some he has the frame to build on and comes from a solid Free agent program Montana in sending players to the NFL (remember Big Scott Gragg) that can be productive after some seasoning.... Go BEARS....Hey Kevin A. other than Nate Davis(who I like) from Ball St, do you see any late round QB's they might take a look at on day two in rounds 4 or 5???

He's right about patience at right tackle. Look around. The prototypical offensive linemen for each position is really starting to dwindle down in the league. The trend right now is to take your best 5 guys and put them in them in regardless of position. For example ex-Illini David Deihl is a prototype guard, but the Giants put him at left tackle. That's not supposed to work, but it does. The Giants are not the only team doing that.

One of the best Bears right tackles was a D-line guy. Big Cat Williams. This early in the process, they don't need to throw money at a guy somebody else didn't want to pay.

If they can find a starter, I'm not worried at all about depth. The last two years have been real good for tackles in the draft. A lot of these young players are going to win starting jobs. When they do, there are going to be some good veteran Ruben Brown type guys hit the street. If we need depth it will be there.

Almost forgot,

Do you suppose we could start some sort of grass roots drive to get Orton to shave? This whole beard thing with him is starting to bring really sick puppies out of the woodwork on both ends of the spectrum.

Barnes signed with the Raiders he's gone as well,....

Do we have a best 5 guys though? I don't think so, it would be nice to get a best 5 guys sooner rather than later, maybe JA drafts a Tackle? I don't know. My gut tells me that Buenning and Omiyale can play the right side with Beekman/Williams on left side. with St. Clair signing as well.
If the Coaches know Buenning can play and know Omiyale can start and Bennet has the ability to start at WR then we are fine, it's just the fans don't know that as we have not seen them play (or Williams either) so maybe? the Coaches know alot more than we do and it's all good, I hope so. (just a bit of half full from me for a change of pace)
oh and let the sick puppies get well when Orton wins his first game with his beard, he does not have to adjust his appearance for sick lil puppies. When he wins those sick puppies will stand in line for his autograph...betcha and if we lose they will always blame the QB as that is as far as they can see, the glamor position. Thats ok at least they are Bears fans, we need all we can get, unlike the 300 at the pass (not forgetting the Thespians) we need numbers not experienced professionals lol

chitownbear, we know that Chicago was at Buffalo's pro day, so they probably took a look at QB Drew Willy. Willy has nice size 6-3 215lbs, a strong arm, and is safe with the ball. As a junior Willy set a Buffalo record by going 235 att with no ints. Then this season as a senior Willy only had 5 ints, he's a possibility on day two.

I have a feeling, with one of their extra compensatory picks in the 6th-7th round, the Bears might bring in local boy Joe Ganz [played high school ball in Palos Hills a suburb of Chicago] of Nebraska. The Bears took a long look at Ganz at Nebraska's pro-day, he's another possibility. Ganz's size is a concern [6-0], but I love the fact he completed 69.2% of his passes, and avg 8yds per att. In 07, with only 3 starts, Ganz put up 1399yds, 15tds. With Ganzs at QB, Nebraska scored 163 points in those three contests. This season Ganz had 3329yds, 23tds, and like I said earlier completed 69.2% of his passes. The 69.2% completion percentage is key, this means he's accurate coming out of college. If you notice a lot of the better NFL QB's were pretty accurate as college QB's, and 69.2% is pretty good.

My personal favorite is Sam's Rhett Bomar. As a red shirt freshman at Oklahoma, Bomar put up 2018yds, 10tds, and was the MVP of the Holiday Bowl. Bomar missed the entire 06 season due to the fact he was dismissed from the Oklahoma program for taking money from a booster, so basically the wrong person found out so Oklahoma had to cover their a$$ and threw Bomar off the team. In 07 Bomar had 2209yds and 10tds. This season he had 3355yds, 27tds. I like what the scouting report on Bomar has to say, it say's "Bomar has a strong arm with a quick release which allows him to throw accurately over the middle, and can move in the pocket to keep plays alive." I like the strong arm and ability to buy time in the pocket. I think Bomar was a high school kid who made a bad decision. Had Bomar not been thrown out of Oklahoma as a freshman back in 05, we might be talking about Bomar as a day one guy today. Just an opinion chitownbear, as always GO BEARS!!

Kevin, I admire your undying positive nature and your knowledge of college talent. The Bomar kid sounds like one to look at but I am frustrated with how the Bears focus on QB.

I am finally starting to realize after 45 years of watching the Bears, that wishing and hoping for a great franchise QB is like wishing to have a date with this years Playboy's playmate of the year.

Not going to happen, no way no how. The Bears don't need no freekin QB, it is obvious by how the top management has set up its priorities and willingness to pay the top dollar. It is just this simple finding that franchise QB will never be a top priority for the Chicago Bears.

All we ever talk about are these QB's that probably won't even be drafted. I know that Joe Montana went in the 3rd round and Tom Brady in the sixth, but also a heck of a lot of very good QB's went in round 1. Point being, that if the Bears are truly commited to finding a franchise QB they need to be ready to pick one in the first couple of rounds and change their philosophy as to their commitment to the position. It hasn't happened in the fourty five years that I have been a BEARS fan, why will it happen now?

I continue to hope for someday to have the next JOe Montana or Tom Brady playing for the BEars, what a fool am I?

Drew wiley huh Kevin, I'll keep an eye on him and do some research, another MAC Kid so again he's a cold weather player, who understands protecting the ball and being accurate with your throws. Heard about Bomar, but I prefer Davis over him, once a head case always a head case and remember we did draft Cade mcclown....

Kevin you have a good nose for players so let me tell you the rules on QB.

Here is how I think of it.

Under 6-2, forget it unless drafting him for another position.

6-2 or 6-3, You can look, but he better have a gun and be very mobile.

6-4 or 6-5, Now you're talking. Don't worry to much about accuracy and stats today. Does he have the gun? Can he move? Accuracy can be improved with fundamentals. Can this guy be coached up?

6-6 and up. If this guy has any talent that can be developed we should always be interested.

I would never spend a draft choice and try to develop a kid that is 6 foot. No matter how talented, he history says he won't make it. If you are going to try to develop a player why not start with one who is tall enough?

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on March 13, 2009 10:38 PM.

Bears take in Beavers workout where G Levitre generates interest was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears keeping tabs on Ohio U. safety Michael Mitchell is the next entry in this blog.

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