Chicago Sun-Times

Bears draft preview: Need No. 3 Offensive tackle

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Need No. 3--Offensive tackle

Players on roster

LT Orlando Pace (signed through 2011)
RT Chris Williams (2012)
OT Kevin Shaffer (2011)
OT Cody Balogh (2010)


The order we have been using for the Bears' needs comes from the file we produced for the Sporting News. That order was changed after the Jay Cutler trade and signing of Orlando Pace, and while we updated the list for the magazine, we were going off the old one. We wrote Wednesday that free safeties were next, and that's changed. So, you can easily determine that free safety and wide receiver are the two positions remaining. We apologizing for any confusion. On with the breakdown and explanation of need. General manager Jerry Angelo said on Tuesday that drafting a lineman, not just a tackle, would put the Bears in the unfamiliar position of having to carry nine linemen on the 53-man roster. The team already has eight veterans in place--Pace, Williams, Shaffer, Frank Omiyale, Olin Kreutz, Roberto Garza, Josh Beekman and Dan Buenning. A team can carry a ninth lineman but that spot would have to come from somewhere else--a third quarterback or a fifth running back (tailbacks and fullbacks combined) would have to be sacrificed, as an example.

A ninth offensive lineman would also cut into the numbers that special teams coordinator Dave Toub has to work with in his group. It might be a sacrifice worth making if a tackle falls all the way to the Bears at No. 49. Oklahoma's Phil Loadholt would be very difficult to pass on but one scout said not only his Loadholt unlikely to make that drop, he believes he will go at the end of the first round. Why would a tackle make sense? Remember what a jam the Bears got themselves into by failing to draft a tackle in the first six rounds for five consecutive years? They believe they're set for the future with Williams, and the hope is Pace buys them not one but two years. Certainly Shaffer is an able backup. But if Angelo takes care of the position here, he might not have to worry about it again. He also pointed out Tuesday that the Bears are better at tackle than they ever have been with four players with experience at left tackle. That counts Omiyale, the free-agent pickup who we have listed at guard because he is expected to take over between Pace and Kreutz at left guard. Angelo also mentioned a change in philosophy. Previously, the Bears looked for guards with the ability to play center. They have three of those in Beekman, Buenning and Garza. Now, the profile the team is using is one that searches for tackles who can also play guard. That's probably a reflection of the stated desire to get more size and bulk up front. The Bears have had far more success constructing the offensive line through free agency than any other way but a young building block is needed to eventually pair with Williams. If the Bears pass, it shows the confidence they have in Pace, who is in terrific shape right now. But it only delays the need to fill a longstanding need. A month ago, tackle was still the No. 1 need even after Shaffer had been added. Picking up Pace didn't push it that far down the list.

Who the Bears have been looking at

The Bears started out with line coach Harry Hiestand taking a look at many of the top prospects, including Loadholt and Arizona's Eben Britton. Earlier this week, Hiestand went to Ball State to put Robert Brewster through a workout. Brewster played right tackle there and some believe he will be a guard in the NFL. The team also hosted Eastern Michigan's T.J. Lang for an official visit. Lang played left tackle in the MAC and will be a right tackle or guard in the NFL. He's gotten a lot of buzz the last month.

Coming Friday: Free safety.

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Chicago is in a lot better shape at tackle than they were last season at this time of year. Thanks to free agency, Angelo landed Orlando Pace who should be able to hold the left tackle spot down for at least this season. This will give last years 1st rounder Chris Williams a chance to get his feet wet on the right side. A lot of very good NFL left tackles have started out on the right side like Jordan Gross of Carolina and Jonathan Ogden of Baltimore. Chris Williams should develop into a very good tackle for the Bears.

What the Bears need is a young player to develop at right tackle. The Bears are pretty deep at guard with Beekman, Garza, Omiyale, and Buenning. I can't see the Bears taking a guard early. Maybe at some point during the 5th-7th round. I would love for the Bears to land Missouri Western's Roger Allen late sunday. Allen has the size 6-3 326lbs, and power as he produced a league high 107 knockdown blocks. Also had an impressive 26 touchdown resulting blocks, 14 in 2008. I like the guy because he plays with tremendous aggression, one scout said, "Allen would much rather punish his opponent rather than just contain them." You gotta love that in a lineman, he could be a steal who could develop into a very good guard for the Bears.

As far as a tackle, when Angelo said, "were looking for tackles that can play guard," to me, the first player that came to mind was Easterns Michigan's T.J. Lang. Lang played left tackle in college, but most scouts see Lang as more of a right tackle or guard at the next level. Lang is one of my favorite prospects, I'd like to see the Bears take him at #99 in the third and develop him into their eventual starting right tackle. Lang has nice size at 6-4 316lbs and scouts say "Lang is an absolute mauler who works hard on and through every play." A second day player Chicago could bring in to develop at right tackle is Florida's Jason Watkins. Watkins is tall at 6-6 and athletic with well built long arms. Watkins length, athleticism and experience at guard and tackle might make him a player for Angelo to consider on sunday in rounds 4-5. Again, I still hope Angelo brings in another young lineman, Im hoping its gonna be T.J Lang, we'll see GO BEARS!!

KA - another player I like is the OG Vasquez from Texas Tech. He is also someone for the later rounds. I agree about Lang, but think he will be gone by 99. If he's there I hope they grab him.

I don't see the Bears taking an OT/OG at 49, unless there is a big time run on WR and someone like Britton, Loadholt (I'm not a big fan of, but the Bears are) or Beatty is sitting there. My favorite of that group is Beatty. He needs work on his run blocking, but has the feet for pass blocking. Right now I'm betting it's CB/FS Smith in the 2nd rd.

The best scenerio is for the Bears to grab the highest rated player on their board regardless of position. If they can add 2-3 players who contribute this year it will be a big plus.

Considering the recent past of our roster, we could very easily be down to 2 tackles early in the season, as Williams has back issues, and Pace has been injured in 2 of the last 3 years. Drafting a tackle would be a wise move by JA. If Williams displays the feet he had at Vandy, which was the reason we drafted him, he should be able to make the transition to the left side either next year or in 2011 to replace Pace. He also should be able to work some time on that side this year in case of injury. I would feel much better plugging Shaffer in on the right side, and moving Williams over. Granted, that means switching two players as opposed to one, but the skill sets are just too slanted in Williams' favor on the left. Shaffer is a right tackle, and should only be on the left in case of emergency.

Some prospects that could be around as we get to the later rounds that I am at least marginally intrigued by:

Gerald Cadogan
Ramon Foster
Sebastian Vollmer
Andrew Hartline

I would be happier if we took a legit guard prospect, and considered Omiyale as a tackle, not a guard. Once you get beyond the top 5 ot 6, you are looking at guys that will either take time to develop, or be limited ceiling guys. We have a more pressing need to upgrade the interior line for the long term. Kreutz is getting towards the end of his career, and Garza is not that solid either way.

But tackle is still a pretty pressing need. If by some miracle Beatty slides to 49, I would hope Jerry is smart enough to take him. Outside of that, I don't see any others being a wise choice at 49 for the tackle position. Loadholt is probably going in the 26-40 range, same as Beatty, so we would need to get really lucky to get one of them. Our saving gracce could be that guys like Tyson Jackson are moving up, which could push a tackle or WR out of the top half of the round, which makes them a lot more likely to start sliding.

I believe Angelo has tried to put the Bears in position to take the best player available. It may be a reciever, it may be a DE, either way that is probably what they will do.

Kevin I too hope Lang falls to number 99, then the Bears can draft him and replace that bum Williams on the right side.

I think Angelo really wants Pace to hold down the LT spot for two years, then he can use the 2011 first round pick on a LT without a bad back. Looks like that may be his plan. I wonder if Williams will get passed the first day of training camp this year? It should be his goal to last at least a week.

How about Duke Robinson, he has been stated to be the top guard prospect in the draft, he is a road grader. Right now the Bears truly need a guard to replace Garza. They have Williams, Pace, Shaffer, Omiyale four out of 8 that are tackles. If Robinson drops to #49 he may be a very good pick.

I think JA secretly wants the Duke to fall and is throwing smoke screen up for the tackle position.

Ok now that I am done with that I would still be very happy to see Lang available at #99, he might turn out sweet for the Bears as well.

I still beleive the greatest need is DT/NT a very large run-stuffer which is contrary to Lovie light is best this team was really thrashed up the middle Urlacher never was a in line player it negates all his strengths. Urlacher was more disruptive when we had a DT who protected him the opposing passing game was less effective when he was freed up to run. Urlacher was protected in his youth by Ted Washington Urlacher was free to run and the DE's also got more sacks because the pocket was being pushed back. The defense will return to the elite with a real NT and Adams would make a good rotation partner. I keep touting Sammie Lee and Baker from D2 schools in the south both fit the bill and one will be there in round 5.

I think unless there is an OL they can't refuse, they will wait until next year to draft a top prospect. They already have 8 lineman. I don't think they'll keep 9. You can't cut Williams, you don't even know what he can do yet. You just signed Pace, he'll be good for a year or two at least. You just signed Omiyale to play guard, he's not getting cut. Kreutz isn't done yet. I think you keep Beekman around as Kreutz's eventual replacement. And Beekman did a decent job last year, not bad enough to get cut anyway. They're not going to get rid of Buenning. They don't know what he can do yet either. He's only been in the system a year. And they traded a draft pick for him (no, it wasn't a high one, but Angelo will want to make sure he's making the right decision before he lets him go.) Garza is still penciled in as your starter at right guard, so I don't think he's going anywhere (but if someone is let go maybe it's him). And they just signed Shaeffer. So, unless a guy falls to them that they think can start right away, I don't think they're drafting OL. I think they think they already solved their problems on the line for this year. Next year will be a different story. The same intriguing prospects will be there next year in the draft. I say we wait to see what we have. Not that I wouldn't like to see a Loadholt or a Lang on the line, but I think they will wait to see how the current roster shakes out first.

Wow Creighton

That was by far the most idiotic comment i've ever heard.

"That bum Williams"

What????? Have you ever watched Williams play? He was an abolute BEAST at Vandy and dominated pass rushers. He's light on his feet, agile, athletic and smart.

He had a back injury. He got it fixed and according to reports ive read, his back should be better then ever. Peanut Tillman had the same surgery awhile back and says his back is stronger than before. He got it fixed and should be a fixture on our o-line for the next 10 years.

Why would you call him a bum? He missed 8 games in his rookie year??? Its not like he's missed 2 or 3 straight years..he missed *8* games...its not his fault that Lovie is very INEPT when it comes to putting rookies in after the start of the season..if a rookies doesnt make it into the rotation in training camp, they like to do the whole redshirt thing, and let them learn...he did the same thing with Earl Bennett, Josh Beekman, ect...

Chris Williams will be our starting RT this year, and after Pace decides he is done, we will move Williams over to the left side.

Why would you call him a bum? He doesnt have a history of injuries, he had ONE injury..and he's 100% now...that's just not cool if you ask me...also as a Bears fan, you have to WANT the team to can writing off our first round pick from last year be good for the team??

I can't see OL as a priority. They have plenty of depth on the line, including 4 guys who can play tackle and are signed for at least the next 3 years (and should stick around for 2). Maybe they can take a lineman (guard or right tackle) if someone falls to them, but they have bigger needs at WR, DB, and DL, and shouldn't use up a draft pick and another roster spot on the OL unless it's a steal.

Smooth it's a joke I always give Kevin a hard time about Williams. You let me know when he makes it through a season though, ok. By the way I don't care how he played at Vandy, this is not Vandy. I also know what he played against at Vandy and most of the guys he lined up against at Vandy are not looking so good in the NFL. Like Jamaal Anderson who has 2 sacks in two years. Yep shut him down, a stud like Anderson. I know he got bumped to RT, even though the Bears say they liked him better than Clady. I don't know, but if Clady was on this team I am pretty sure he would be the starting LT.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 23, 2009 8:20 AM.

Four Down Territory, April 22: Angelo's history with marijuana (Percy Harvin) and the draft was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears to announce Forte, Tillman as annual Piccolo Award winners is the next entry in this blog.

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