On the day the Bears solidified their starting offensive line--at least for 2009--by signing seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace, they looked under the hood on a draft prospect.
Eastern Michigan offensive lineman T.J. Lang made his official visit to Halas Hall on Thursday.
He's fast climbing draft boards and it will be interesting to see how general manager Jerry Angelo addresses the need to find a young offensive tackle. He doesn't own a first-round pick this year after the Jay Cutler trade but it's not like he can wait to grab one in the first round next year. The Bears had to deal away their first-round selection in 2010.
At some point, Angelo is going to need to pull the trigger on a young lineman but also consider the Bears are virtually locked in to selecting a wide receiver in the second round at No. 49 overall. Also, if they want to make a run at Alabama safety Rashad Johnson, who Angelo is known to like, they are going to have to cross their fingers and hope he falls to the end of the third round where the Bears have the compensatory pick at No. 99 overall. That might not happen.
But back to Lang. He is an interesting guy who played left tackle in school but projects on the right side or possibly inside at guard. The Bears took a real liking to him at the Texas vs. The Nation all-star game but so did a lot of other teams and he has a full dance card with visits also completed or scheduled with Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Green Bay, Jacksonville and San Diego.
The big question is where does Angelo make a play for a tackle? In Round 3 or early in the draft next year? It would be wishful thinking to wait deep into the second day of the draft and grab a tackle with the thinking in mind he can be developed. Those are longshots. Pace isn't going to play long enough--he signed for three years and the deal $15 million deal is structured where he receives $11 million in the first two years--for the Bears to roll the dice on longshots. Something has to give to get Cutler, right?