Post the years of Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, the Chicago Bears Offensive Line has been h0w some would put. In disarray. That last offensive line consisted of John Tait, Roberto Garza, Olin Kreutz, Ruben Brown and Fred Miller. The only remnant of that offensive line helps anchor it at the center position. In the form of Roberto Garza now, 35.
This past season saw the first uptick in offensive line play. In large part due to the hiring of Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator, Aaron Kromer (formerly the O-line coach in New Orleans). Along with Emery bringing in many capable players to help the situation out.
Jermon Bushrod was signed (and overpaid to leave N.O.) and man the left tackle position in Chicago. The Bears also brought in two guards, a castoff from the New York Jets, Matt Slauson. Who was the Bears inarguable best lineman last season. His technique is unbelievable from the left guard position. The other guard brought in was former Duck and 1st round pick, Kyle Long. Who was by all accounts at the time, a reach. Though who knows how far he may have actually "fallen." Kyle, has unbelievable athleticism and strength at RG and from the looks of it to me could be the left tackle of the future, even though his technique still needs major refinement. That however is neither here nor there.
The 2013 draft also produced another starter in right tackle, the "Big, Sexy, Nasty," Jordan Mills from Louisiana Tech. Though he had a rough year to say the least. Fans need to remember he was a rookie starter taken in the 5th round. So his development should pick up and the right side of the line should be stabilized for some time.
So in short, the Bears will be returning all five starters to their offensive line and it will once again look like;
LT: Jermon Bushrod LG: Matt Slauson C: Roberto Garza RG: Kyle Long RT: Jordan Mills
Jordan Mills was also challenged by former 2nd round pick from Arizona, Eben Britton. Who was used primarily in "jumbo" sets. Britton was brought back this offseason. Along with bringing back Britton, the Bears brought in former Saints center and Kromer project center, Brian De La Puente.
De La Puenta was signed to a one year deal for $1 over league minimum this off-season. Meaning the Bears have the right to negotiate contract extension during the season. Leading me to believe they could be looking for him to replace Garza after this season when I'd assumer Garza could retire. He can also play guard.
Total that is seven players. Thats the general number of lineman carried on game days. Leaving one or two spots on the inactive roster that the Bears could use.
Players competing for those last spots include; James Brown, Taylor Boggs, Dylan Gandy, Ryan Groy, Charles Leno Jr., Joe Long, Michael Ola, Graham Pocic and Dennis Roland.
Simple math says thats nine players competing for two spots. Not exactly great odds for those players. The easy ones to dismiss would be the likes of Graham Pocic, Dennis Roland, Joe Long, Dylan Gandy and Ryan Groy. Though, I personally like Groy and think he would be a great candidate for the practice squad.
That now leaves Brown, Boggs, Leno and Ola. Brown and Boggs both have an edge in that they know the offense and have worked with Kromer. Though, when it comes to Boggs he may have his chances cut significantly after the arrival of De La Puente.
Bringing us to Ola and Leno. Ola listed as rookie has professional experience having played in the CFL. He also offers versatility being able to lineup at both tackle and guard. Leno though drafted was very late and is relegated to only left tackle thus far in camp. Leading me to believe they will also try to stash him on the practice squad.
Leaving my final prediction for the nine offensive lineman they keep as follows:
Tackles; Jermon Bushrod, Eben Britton, Jordan Mills. Centers; Roberto Garza, Brian De La Puente. Guards; Kyle Long, Matt Slauson
With the reserves on game day as Michael Ola and James Brown. Then Leno and Groy on the practice squad.
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