A few years back, Bears fans were pretty excited about Chris Williams being the team's first round draft pick. Injuries have bounced him around the lineup, and he may have settled in as a guard finally.
So when the Bears selected another tackle, Wisconsin's Game Carimi, in the 2011 Draft, some fans were skeptical; looking back at Jerry Angelo's draft history, there's good reason to have questions.
But Carimi should give fans every confidence that he's legit, and will be a stud for a long time. Here's why.
Carimi, the 2010 Outland Trophy winner as the nation's best lineman, comes from a school that knows how to groom NFL stars in the trenches.
He replaced the last Badger to win the Outland Trophy, Joe Thomas, as a redshirt freshman and started for four years in Madison. Thomas was the third overall pick in the 2007 Draft by the Cleveland Browns, and has been to four consecutive Pro Bowls.
Also, consider the competition Carimi played against while at Wisconsin. For as much as people might like to hate on the Big Ten, there's no questioning the quality of play on the defensive side of the ball. Indeed, look at the defensive ends Carimi had to line up against that were picked in this year's draft:
- Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue - 16th overall
- Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa - 20th overall
- Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State - 31st overall
- Jonas Mouton, OLB, Michigan - 61st overall
That impressive list of Big Ten players doesn't include the guy Carimi lined up against in practice every day at Wisconsin: 11th overall pick JJ Watt.
Carimi was dominant and consistent, and he was playing against elite talent.
He comes into a situation where the Bears have a solid offensive line coach and a need at tackle. Carimi will be asked to do a lot, but that's nothing new for him.
Here is some video evidence of Carimi's work:
vs. Heyward at Ohio State
vs. Clayborn at Iowa
The game between Wisconsin and Iowa was an outstanding matchup, and both Carimi and Clayborn showed that they were NFL-ready in that game.