Chicago Sun-Times

Bears draft preview: Need No. 12 Center

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Need No. 12--Center

Players on roster

C Olin Kreutz (signed through 2010)
G/C Josh Beekman (2010)

Need

The 12-year veteran Kreutz has not been voted to the Pro Bowl since the 2006 season when he was named first team All-Pro. He will turn 32 in June and has a lot of mileage on him having started 102 consecutive games. He's missed just one game since 2001. Kreutz might not be a dominant player at the position any longer but it will be interesting to see how he looks this season with a new quarterback and new cast around him on the offensive line. There are expected to be three new starters. If Jay Cutler performs well and running back Matt Forte excels, well, reviews of Kreutz's play are obviously going to be favorable. That's how it goes a lot of times for interior linemen.

He still has the quickness to reach the second level and has a strong hand punch but can struggle at times against big nose tackles. The plan is for him to at least finish out his contract so the need isn't very pressing here, especially when you consider the Bears are at least considering Beekman as the eventual replacement. Beekman has some experience playing center at Boston College, has worked in a backup role here already and he's expected to be forced out at left guard by Frank Omiyale. Kreutz remains a leader on the line and in the locker room. The question will be what to do when he's done. Carrying a backup center isn't the easiest thing to do when it comes to roster flexibility. Teams like to have a swing tackle and a reserve guard who also has the ability to play center in a pinch. Not only can Beekman fill that role, so can Dan Buenning, who got work at center in practice for a good part of last season. This is Buenning's first offseason with the club and it will be interesting to see how backup time is divided at center. The guess is Beekman gets a lot of it but we'll see.

Who the Bears have been looking at

We have not identified any players the Bears have been keeping tabs on at this position. Finding a young tackle and perhaps adding a guard likely rank as higher priorities.

Coming Thursday: Fullback.

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15 Comments

Brad - Given Pace, Williams, Schaffer and Omiyale are all OTs first, and all of them have plyed LOT to some extent, would OG be a higher priority than a OT this year? Omiyale seems destined to be the LOG, but Garza still seems to be the weak link....

VicF is correct that Garza is the weak link. He was blown up on a regular basis last year, especially when he would pull out to the perimeter. The Bears like smaller and quicker interior lineman. We have lacked a little bit of muscle against the big interior d-lineman over the past couple of years and our lineman, Garza in particular, have lost some quickness and therefore a great deal of their effectiveness. I wouldn't mind seeing a mauling type down the road on the inside of our line.

Garza is definately the weak link unless you can play football on your back. He should be back up at best, unless Buenning is not as good as advertised. We'll see. Schedule looks great.

GO BEARS.

My understanding was Buenning was competing with Garza for the RG spot.

Maybe Brad can try to confirm? I know he didn't touch on this.

Center is not a big need right now, Olin Kreutz might not be a pro-bowler anymore, but he's still a good center.

Chicago probably does see Josh Beekman as their eventual starting center, but I think he remains at left guard for now. The position battle between Josh Beekman and Frank Omiyale should be interesting. I think Beekman will win and remain the starter. Beekman knows the offense and has a year of starting experience under his belt. Omiyale has hardly ever even played guard, Omiyale has spent almost his entire career at tackle. I also look for Beekman to come on this season with a year of starting experience already under his belt. In the end, I think Omiyale might be a year away from being a starting guard.

Also, mark my words, the NFC north's best quarterback Jay Cutler will make the Bears a better running team all by himself. No more 8 man boxes for Kreutz's and his line mates to face all the time, Cutler is also gonna make the line look better with his ability to buy time in the pocket. On the line, tackle would appear to be the biggest need heading into the draft. But here's something to think about. The Bears have been looking at mostly guards this off-season, the only tackle they have been linked to since they signed Pace and Shaffer is T.J Lang of Eastern Michigan, but he also projects as a guard. And if you go to the teams web site, and look at the roster [this is where Brad first found out Omiyale had his number changed to #68] Omiyale is still listed as a tackle, again, this should be interesting to see what direction the Bears go in the draft, guard or tackle? Either way, the Bears o-line is gonna be much improved GO BEARS!!

olin kruetz is a stud and his demeaner and profressional attitude,plus experience will be good enough until beekman or a drafted player can,can assume the position.

Beekman is a better guard than he is a Center and he could not hold on to that spot on the line.

Buenning does not seem to be impressing anyone at Halas hall. But we only gave a sixth round pick for him so who really cares?

Olin has been in decline for a couple of years now. Olin has started 151 games and played in 158 in 11 seasons, most offensive linemen begin thier major decline after about 140 games. That many games takes a toll on a body. My guess is this will be Olin's last real productive year as a starter.

This is a great year for Centers in fact it's probably the best draft class for Centers in the history of the draft. If one of the top 4 or 5 falls to the 4th or 5th round I say grab him.

Brad I thought the Bears checked out Antoine Caldwell?

I think center is the #1 position we should be looking for!!! Without an inside game we can't defend the post........sorry....I'm thinking of the Chicago Bulls.....

If Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks or Robiske are not available at 49 I say the Bears finish what they have started to do this offseason and finish the offensive line by drafting Center Eric Wood and then get Jairus Byrd from Oregon in the 3rd round to play free safety and then maybe Arron Kelley WR from Clemson. I realize what your going to say Creighton JA likes finesse linemen, but this Wood can play and would open the middle of the field for Forte and he can protect Cutler.

Brad I love the Cutler Trade, while I do think they paid a steep price for Cutler I also do believe he will prove to be well worth it. My concern does sit with WR and Safety. I feel they cannot replace Mike Brown with Journeymen or players trying to revive their career. Do you see any possibility of the Bears trading away picks and or players to try and get in position to draft both Mohamed Massaquoi and Rashad Johnson. In my opinion it sounds like the Bears Covet these two players and think they would upgrade both positions with the ability to have an immediate impact. Reality is one or the other will not be on the board when the Bears pick in the 3rd round. Knowing they cant trade the 3rd round Supplemental Pick could there be room for one more trade to possibly provide the Bears with an additional 2nd round or early 3rd round pick.

I wholeheartedly agree with all saying Garza needs to be a back up. Ever since the Superbowl the dude has not performed well at all. He came to the Bears with bad knees and really was a stop gap.

One thing about Beekman we the fans have yet to see him play at center so we really don't know if he is better suited for guard or center. He did do an above average job last year and I believe he will do just as good this year and years to come.

Joe,

Myself and others (Creighton off the top of my head) really do not like Massaquoi. A guy like Robiskie would be a much better fit for the Bear's needs.

Just going on the value chart alone, Chicago would have to basically give up the draft to get another 2nd-round pick AND couple it with a pick from next year. I wouldn't look for Chicago to make any moves in this draft EXCEPT trading back as Angelo seems to love hoarding picks and if 49 comes up and no one is otheir radar you can bet Jerry will want the extra picks if he can swing a deal.

Creighton....

I usually agree with you, but I think your way off on Beekman. Beekman is MUCH better suited to play Center then he is Guard. He is build just like Olin and isnt a good enough run block to play guard.
Every scout that has ever graded him has said he would be better off at Center. He's decent at guard, but he could be good or really good at center.

I think the bears know this, that's why they signed Omiyale and are planning on letting Beekman be a backup and groom him to take over for Olin in a year or two.

Well Beekman worked with Olin his first year, but I am not so sure he wowed anyone there. Olin is an undersized Center and being built like a guy does not make you that guy. He actually isn't built like Olin, there just both 6'2. Olin is undersized and always has been, I have noticed the Bears have been looking for taller more athletic linemen for awhile now, I don't think Garza or Beekman suits what they want to do which is a classic west coast line. Max Unger would probably be the best fit if that is the case. Both Garza and Beekman suffer from the same problem they are run blockers who struggle in pass protection, Buenning is also a run blocker who struggles with the Pass.

I know a lot of people think Beekman is the center of the future but I don't see it. Last year they brought in Oakley to try out for the Backup Center spot. This year they have Buenning taking the snaps there while Beekman works with Omiyale. If they want him as there future Center thats fine but you may want to let him practice there. I think Beekman may be last on the OG depth chart right now, and Angelo's post season comments about him seemed less then flattering. I just don't think he is a very good player for this system. I don't think people realize, how they need to change the line not just for Cutler but for Forte. The Power O they have been running with that line was meant for Benson or another power back. Thats not what Forte does he is more like Marshall Faulk, Roger Craig or Thurman Thomas. I am not saying he is as good as them but he has te same style of play. Which means he needs a more athletic line. I think this is the biggest reason for Pace, who used to block for Marshall. All these guys worked in a WCO of sorts and were all big reasons for the success of the no Huddle offense you saw with Levy, Walsh, and even last year with the Bears no huddle you saw how usful Forte was.

i would give up a couple of this years and vasher to get another second or early third round pick to get rashad johnson and massaquoi
the bears need a safety as bad as a wideout. hopefully they will sign a wideout after the draft. what i mean by a couple of this years is at least a fifth round and maybe a fouth, and maybe a player like vasher. the bears should stop picking up late round players and work on getting quality players. the team is getting to the point where they need to get good players when they draft to make this a really good team. if the bears draft wideout, safety, and d line this year then they should make the playoffs. they can draft more o line players next year. they need to see what they have now on the o line before they draft anymore.they need to make sure jay has enough good wideouts to throw to.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 15, 2009 6:48 AM.

Turning the Bears' 2009 schedule upside down was the previous entry in this blog.

Safety Rashad Johnson: I made a lot of big plays is the next entry in this blog.

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