Chicago Sun-Times

Bears could have a sleeper in OT/G James Brown

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The Bears raised a few eyebrows, especially among skeptics, when they did not take an offensive lineman in the draft last week.

But for what it's worth, it was a top priority after the draft. The Bears signed Troy's James Brown, a 6-3 1/2, 306-pound offensive tackle who was considered a third- or fourth-round pick but went undrafted, apparently because he didn't convince NFL scouts he could make the transition to guard.

The Bears are betting low stakes that he can. Brown was the highest-rated player on ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr.'s draft board. Kiper had Brown rated as the 54th best player overall. Last year, the Bears also signed the top undrafted player on Kiper's board -- wide receiver Dan Sanzenbacher, who led all Bears wide receivers in touchdown receptions as a rookie in 2011 (three).

''I think people were leery -- at 6-3 1/2 at left tackle, there aren't many of those out there,'' Kiper said. ''And then you have to move him to guard and he didn't test out well athletically at the [scouting] combine. He had only 25 1/2-inch vertical.''

At Amite County High School in Magnolia, Miss., Brown played offensive and defensive line and also was a kicker and punter and fullback. Scouting reports indicate he can play at a higher weight He has played at 350 pounds in college.

''Athletically, can he play guard is the question,'' Kiper said. ''Is he a left tackle, where he held up pretty well at Troy? I know I thought he did pretty good at the Senior Bowl practices. But at 6-3 1/2 -- outside of Brad Hopkins and a couple of others there haven't been very many of them.

''We talk about 'tweeners -- it's very rare you get a tweener on the offensive line. Is he a guard? Is he a tackle? I think he's a guard. And I think he'll show well. I think this a very, very good signing for the Bears.''

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2 Comments

So let me get this straight: the Bears draft a 'tweener (DE or LB?) with the first pick, a 'tweener with the third pick (CB or Safety?) a 'tweener with the fourth pick (listed as a Fullback, he'll play Tight End at 6'1"!) and their best free agent signing is a 'tweener (too short for tackle, didn't test out well at the combine for a guard). Even some people called Alshon Jeffrey a "light Tight End" in the weeks before the draft. Oy. Is it just me, or does this draft smell a little like those of the Mark Hatley 1990's, when you weren't quite sure where anyone was going to play? At least that decade worked out well.

So let me get this straight: the Bears draft a 'tweener (DE or LB?) with the first pick, a 'tweener with the third pick (CB or Safety?) a 'tweener with the fourth pick (listed as a Fullback, he'll play Tight End at 6'1"!) and their best free agent signing is a 'tweener (too short for tackle, didn't test out well at the combine for a guard)
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My thoughts exactly. This defensive scheme calls for smaller, faster players, and they rely on gap discipline, which is usually something smaller, faster players struggle with. We don't draft prototypes for these positions, we draft high motor athletes that we think we can coach up to fit what we do. So far, it has not worked out very well on the DL, and Urlacher and Melton are about it for position changes on the Bears that have worked, and the jury is still out on Melton in my opinion.

On offense, Tice loves, big, mauling type linemen, and we have a lot of big bodies. Brown would not be a good fit at tackle in Tice's system, even though he probably has 100 times better footwork and technique than Webb does. But Tice does love him some lumbering oafs on the OL, so Brown will really struggle to fit in on the edges. Talent-wise, he should be good enough to make the roster, and you can plug him in at 4 of the 5 positions, and get better performance than what we got out of Omiyale if he is really as good as they predicted he would be coming out.

Who is he better than on the Bears roster? We won't know until he shows up with the veterans at mini-camp, but i would venture he can't be much worse than Louis, Wrotto, Stephens, and Ricky Henry. Right now we have 10 OL with a G in their position listing on the Bears website, and only 4 OTs, one of them being the kid from Auburn who wanted to quit football a month ago to pursue a career in the music biz...Incidentally, 3 of the 10 Gs are split between Guard and center. if you go back to previous teams or college, Spencer is a center, and Reggie Stephens was a center. Based on the performance of the line the last few years, Brown isn't up against much to make the team. I think he takes Louis' roster spot, and becomes the bottom rung swing OL. If we try to stash him on the practice squad, I bet he gets picked up right away in final waivers.


I will be curious to see whether Tice lines him up at guard or tackle for mini-camp.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on May 1, 2012 12:36 PM.

McClellin or DeCastro? ESPN's Kiper backs Bears' choice was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears agree to terms with rookie WR Alshon Jeffery is the next entry in this blog.

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