GM Ryan Poles faced a difficult decision when the draft finally started for the Chicago Bears. His offense needed help, especially up front. In his mind, the offensive line had been woefully underwhelming in 2021. However, based on his draft board, it was clear that defense had the higher-end talent available. In the end, he stuck to the board, selecting Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker in the 2nd round. He’d given Matt Eberflus two potential Day 1 starters for the new defense, but Justin Fields remained in need of help.
So Poles went into the third day on a mission. He’d counteract it with quantity if he couldn’t add a quality offensive blocker. The Bears secured five extra picks between the 5th and 7th rounds through a series of trades. Of the eight total they ended up with, four of them were spent on offensive linemen.
- Braxton Jones (5th round)
- Zachary Thomas (6th round)
- Doug Kramer (6th round)
- Ja’Tyre Carter (7th round)
The common theme between the four was athleticism. All demonstrated an ability to move well for their size. A necessary trait with the type of offense the Bears will employ. It will come down to how well they handle the NFL transition. Based on Eberflus’ first impression during the opening practice of rookie minicamps, optimism is high. He was somewhat surprised and encouraged by how good the four looked in drills.
The fact he said that unprompted is noteworthy.
It means they stood out to him in a definitive fashion. Their commitment to work and play with intensity was evident from the start. Keep in mind they were operating in shorts and helmets. Pads won’t go on until training camp in July. So it won’t be easy to get a good idea of what each of the four offers until live bullets are flying. Still, it sounds like they’re dedicated to doing what is necessary to help the team.
Matt Eberflus has some interesting decisions ahead.
As of this moment, there are only two spots on the offensive line that can be considered locked down. Cody Whitehair remains fixed at left guard while new arrival Lucas Patrick will take over at center. Left tackle, right guard, and right tackle are to be determined. It is a safe assumption former 2nd round pick Teven Jenkins will occupy one of those edge spots. Initial projects have him landing on the right side, where he played in college. That would leave Larry Borom as their best current option for left tackle.
The one spot that is entirely up in the air is right guard. James Daniels departed in free agency for the Pittsburgh Steelers. As a result, nobody on the roster can be called a definitive replacement. The Bears could still sign a veteran, or they may hold an open competition at camp to see if somebody steps up to fill it. Word is Thomas was the rookie who played that spot in minicamps thus far.
Something worth monitoring.
Expect Jones to focus on tackle, Kramer on center, and Carter on guard. Draft experts feel those are the best fits for each. Then again, it may come down to what Matt Eberflus and his staff feel is best for the team. That could lead to an unexpected shift.
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