Chicago Sun-Times

Draft experts continue to debate tackle class

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Where the highest rated offensive tackles in the 2011 draft class deserve to be chosen depends on which expert you talk to. ESPN's Todd McShay said earlier this week that he didn't think any of the four top-tier tackles --- Anthony Castonzo, Tyron Smith, Gabe Carimi and Nate Solder --- will be available when the Bears pick at No. 29. senior analyst Gil Brandt isn't sure Castonzo or Carimi deserve to be Top 20 picks.

It's possible they are both right, although Brandt's assessment may offer more hope of one of the two players tumbling to the Bears, unlikely as that may be.

"Right now I've got Castonzo in my 11-20 category," Brandt said. "He's going to be a good football player. When you start for four years like he did at Boston College, that tells you something. He did a good job at left [tackle] at the Senior Bowl, but right now I'm not sure I don't have him a little to high and he should be in the 21-30 category."

What makes Brandt think he has overrated Castonzo?

"When I look at these guys, to be honest with you, there are a bunch of them that all look alike," he said. "What you have to do is go back and look at certain traits or characteristics that lead to success at a position. As an example, he does have long arms. I'm not sure he has the best feet in the world. That concerns me just a little bit. If I'm going to draft a guy that high I have to expect him to play at left tackle. I can't draft somebody in that 11-20 area and not expect them to play left tackle.

"It's kind of like Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin. I think he's a very, very good football player, but I don't think he belongs in the 11-20 area because even though he thinks he can and he did play left tackle at Wisconsin, I don't think he can do it in the National Football League."

If Brandt is right, and neither Castonzo or Carimi can protect Jay Cutler's blind side, it may behoove the Bears to take an interior lineman or the best defensive player available.

It's possible the Bears could move mammoth 2010 seventh-round pick J'Marcus Webb from right to left tackle. Several coaches/scouts inside and outside of the Bears' organization believe he has the capability at some point in his career, but asking him to do it in his second NFL season might be a stretch, especially if the lockout continues into training camp.

Frank Omiyale had his moments at left tackle --- both good and bad. Omiyale, who played guard in 2009, spent training camp and the preseason playing at right tackle before switching to left early in a Week 2 win against the Cowboys. Omiyale reminds me of former San Francisco 49ers tackle Derrick Deese, who wasn't a prototypical left tackle but somehow got the job done.

It's also possible 2008 first-round pick Chris Williams could be an effective left tackle, although that ship has likely sailed after he struggled mightily at the position early last season.

Either way, filling that left tackle spot looks to be a challenge for general manager Jerry Angelo, regardless of how far Carimi and Castonzo fall.

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Frank Omiyale is probably gonna end up as the starting left tackle this season for Chicago unless someone like Colorado's Nate Solder slips, or Angelo trades up for him. The Bears are simply gonna have to trade up to bring in a left tackle, thats probably Angelo's best bet. I don't see anyone slipping.

If Chicago stays put, their probably gonna have to go with a right tackle or a guard. The player I like is TCU's Marcus Cannon, the 6-5 350lb monster would be a great road grader at right tackle for Chicago. The Bears could move Webb to the left side and plug Cannon in at right tackle next season. Cannon is powerful, he owns several TCU records for power lifting. He put up 33 reps on the bench. Chicago needs a lineman with Cannon's strength up front on their line for the running game. He's a nice option.

I'm not big on any of the defensive tackles, North Carolina's Marvin Austin has all the tools, but he has been labeled a "me player" from many of his team mates and has a red flag for being a head case (see Tommie Harris). He had to sit out last season due to excepting gifts, which I could forgive, I mean come on, he just got caught. The Bears are gonna have to really look Austin over before they bring him in. But if he pans and gets his head on straight, he could be the stud 3-technique the Bears have been missing. And teamed with big J-Pep, set Chicago's defense over the top. Its gonna be interesting GO BEARS!!

Could Marcus Cannon play guard? It would be good to give Webb a shot to keep his right tackle spot and bring in someone like Cannon to open some HOLES for the run game.

This whole fantasy is just not realistic. We just can't expect the Bears to fix their O-line for 2011 in the draft. Left tackles who are able to start and succeed as rookies may be as rare as quarterbacks who do that. It would be a long shot if they had a pick in the single digits. It's just not happening at 29.

I hope for an impact player in the first round. Almost any position will do.

In the end I would expect that the Bears might approach their O-line like the Giants did a few years ago. Take their best five, match them to positions as best they can, and go with it. That's how Eli Manning wound up in the Super Bowl with a guard, David Diehl, protecting his blind side at left tackle.

It's not impossible that they could hit the lottery and find a starter in the draft. Webb was picked in round seven and wound up starting. But they can't go into the draft with the expectation that they will get a left tackle at 29. You can go in with the expectation of getting a good player, or the expectation of filling a specific need. Trying to do both is how you lose.

As far as the O-line is concerned I think they already have better overall depth than in the past. They have made some subtle changes in their approach towards raw but athletic linemen. Instead of banking on a roster full of journeymen like Shaffer like in the past, they have some intriguing young players that are a cut above the Terrance Metcalfs we have seen before. Guys like Asiata, Edwin Williams, Johnson, or Louis still have a lot of development potential that may surprise us before training camp is over. If even one of these players takes another step, it will make a big difference.

Cannon could easily play guard in the nfl. He is a very nice prospect. At his current weight I don't think he play RT and would probably have to slim down he has struggled most of his career with speed rushers and the Bears have to deal with a lot of ROLB which would be a problem or him. However last time read about Cannon he had dropped 14 pounds.

Coaching wise Tice is the perfect fit for Cannon

Scheme wise Martz is a bad fit for the natural run blocker, asking him to sustain blocks against speed rushers on all those deep drops is too much to ask good pass blocking tackles asking a natural run blocker to do it may be pushing their luck. I really wish someone would can Martz and give Tice the OC job. Martz's game plans for the last two Packers games were terrible. Bears could have nocked the Pack out of the playoffs but Martz decided he wanted run all those deep drops again. What a chump.

I think Cannon is most like Carl Nicks and could really ecell at LG or RG in the nfl. He needs some work though. While he is crazy strong that has not actually translated to the field much but this is a easy fix for Tice. Great feet for a guy his size, but that doesn't mean he has good enough feet to play OT in the nfl as a pass blocker.

Everything I have read about him says he is an athletic big man with good feet. He will have some mental lapses late in games because of conditioning issues. Not to say he is out of shape but it is really hard for any 350 guy to sustain a high level of performance over an extended period of time. They say he is a really hard worker, very bright, has a high fottball IQ, great teammate, good motor, mean streak, but doesn't us his power they way he should or could.

The right coach and system and he could be a excellent guard or RT.

I think the benefit of having him at guard is the Bears need a guy like him to stop all these 3-4 NT's that are blowing holes in the Bears interior. I think a lot of us got tired of seeing Gaza, Williams and Olin get crushed by interior defenders. Remember the Washington game, or the Browns game the year before, or howabout watching Raji abuse are those 3 on a regular basis. Kyle Williams in Buffalo abused the Bears interior.

You won't stop those guys using a pair of undersized 290 pound 30+ year olds with worn out knees, or that sad sack 6-6 310 pound short armed gimpy backed, unmotivated, roody poo candy a#### pile of monkey c### Chris Williams. Even Tice called that Chump out last year.

Tice "Chris can be as good as he wants to be"

What that actually means: Mr. Monkey C### needs to start working his ### off.

You ever hear of a debt collector/ Well I like to call guys like Mr.Monkey C### "Check Collectors" the only reason he plays football is collect a check, he doesn't love the game it was just a means to an end and when he got that big check he had done his job.

There are a couple of directions that the Bears can go with regard to the OL. Either they fix the edges, and put the best combo they have on the field for the interior 3 positions, or they solidify the interior, and use scheme to protect Williams, Omiyale, and Webb (whichever two end up starting).

My thinking is that where we will be drafting, it will be tough to get someone who can get the job done outside at left tackle (especially considering Tice won't get to play with them until the lockout is resolved), so we should be looking at guard and center. I would not be upset if we trade back out of the first into the second, and take Wisniewski at center and a DT in round 2 (McClain I think is going to be the pick in late 2, since Austin will be gone). Then we can look at a guard in the 3rd or 4th, but that also means we need to consider free agent guards or tackles to fill in the unit.

If Solder falls, he could be good enough to start as a rookie, and so could Sherrod. But how much better will either of them be than Williams, Omiyale, and Webb? Maybe a lot better...maybe not better at all. I would be interested to see what happens when Williams and Omiyale are battling it out in training camp for the LT spot. I think Webb is entrenched at RT, despite his marginal performance in 2010.

With the other needs we have (DT, LB, CB, WR, QB) in addition to the OL, we need to be active in free agency.

I was also wondering whether it would make sense for the owners to take the judgment from Nelson next week or shortly after the draft (assuming she rules the lockout to be lifted), and reach a tacit agreement with the Players Trade Association to run 2011 under the 2010 rules, and continue negotiations on a long term deal to be reached before the season starts in September. That would put the momentum back on their side for future negotiations, and get the players less organized, because they will all have jobs again and not care as much now that 25% of the membership will get to start free agency.

Anyway, that would be a way to guarantee football in 2011, and keep things moving in the right direction. I don't want to miss football this season, so I am hoping they find a way to get things moving again until they can resolve a long-term plan.

Joe I don't think the Bears can afford not to both draft for the O-Line and sign FA for the line. Hell as it stands now they don't have a Center. It wouldn't bother me either if they traded out of the first round and picked up an extra late third round pick and a top 5-10 second rounder. They would then have some flexability. I doubt the tackle position can be fixed this year. Almost every rookie struggles his first year so a draft pick probably won't do it and in FA who do you have? Doug Fee isn't leaving Dallas after that you have the over the hill gang, and Yanda a RT and Clabo a RT. Gaither could be worth a look if they can get him cheap, if he is healthy he is a very good LT and he is young. But he may just be another nfl head case.

On the interior the Bears could give Chris Chester a look, he is a solid guard and still young. They can also look at Yanda who is very good at RG and I bet he could play center in a pinch, plus he is also a good RT.

Whatever they do they need to get two guys this year who can play and are not over the hill. Cause next year they are going to have to get another two guys as well.

I agree that we need to attack with both tactics this year. I would love to see us get a solid center like Wisniewski in the second, and not have to worry about Kreutz coming back. Best case scenario is that we play Wis at C from day 1, and we don't have to bring back Kreutz on a 1 year deal. But worst case, since Wis played G at Penn State as well, is we can start him at LG, and Kreutz can play on a 1 year deal and let the youngster take over in 2012.

But looking at the tackle class, Solder has a lot of upside, as does Tyron Smith. But Castonzo, Carimi, and Sherrod are going to be solid players, with not a lot of upside. But Solder's ceiling may not be as high as guys like Trent Williams, Okung, and Bulaga from last year. So I would almost think that mid-round tackles with potential would be a better option than taking Sherrod if the other 4 are gone, especially if we can solidify one of the interior spots.

I am not sure who is out there in FA that would really be in our crosshairs as far as tackles. Free is definitely not leaving Dallas, and Gaither might not be right for us, especially after not playing in 2010.

Bottom line is if we play with the same OL in 2011 that we did in 2010, we will not be contenders for the division. You can't expect the kind of luck we had to repeat itself in 2011.

Castonzo was hilarious on Seinfeld. Cannon was a really good TV sleuth. Gotta worry about a fallen Solder.

I love these armchair experts who read a buncha stuff, maybe see a guy once and actually believe they know what they're talking about. They're the best.

We'll grab the best OL available and not over-think it too much.

Not to worry, folks. J Angelo's genius really comes thru when he has a first-round pick. So glad McCaskeys, Angelo, Lovie still in respective places. Oh, wait a minute. We swapped one pinhead McCaskey for another. All good now.

Yeah its not like some of us have made highly accurate predictions about offensive linemen and offensive line play in general, not just on the Bears but league wide. Never got multiple emails from the writers about it either.

And I might add it is so hard to find any video on any player. I men gosh you type their names and what is the first thing that comes up, video. Its really not that hard to actually get hours worth of video on any of these guys.

Oh and maybe you didn;t know this but how many college games do you think a GM goes to? How much time do you think they research all these guys? You can get video from pro days, the combine, you name it and you can get it.

It's not like anyone saw TCU play last year right? Or Wisconsin? Its not like I can't tell you that Cannon's biggest flaw is that he is slow out of his stance and thats why he gets beat by speed. And its not the speed at which he fires out of his stance, its his reaction time to the snap. Please go and try to find that info on one of the draft sites.

"We'll grab the best OL available and not over-think it too much."

By the way who is we? Join the Bears organization recently did we? Well if its we then we will probably do what I suggest when it comes to the O-Line.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on April 18, 2011 4:42 PM.

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