The NFL draft is less than two weeks away and the Chicago Bears have still done nothing in free agency to upgrade the offensive line. The club has shown interest in a few veterans, recently visiting with G Anthony Herrera and T Adam Goldberg, and reportedly inquiring about G Eric Steinbach. Yet no one has been signed.
At this point, it appears the Bears will be turning to the draft to find help up front. The team rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season, the first time a Chicago club has done so in 20 years. Yet they averaged just 3.3 yards per carry between the tackles and allowed pressure up the middle all season.
GM Phil Emery could easily justify spending an early round pick on a guard. But if he chooses to wait, and fills other positions of need in the first three rounds, then he should consider one of these guards in the mid-to-late rounds.
Josh LeRibeus, Southern Methodist (6-3, 312)
LeRibeus is a scrappy player that relies on effort more than athletic ability. He's quick off the ball and sustains his blocks. He'll make a good run blocker at the next level. He's average at the second level and in pass protection. He's not a very fast or explosive player and will likely struggle with powerful defensive linemen in the NFL. LeRibeus' junior season was wiped out when he was declared academically ineligible, which brings into question his intelligence and desire.
Projected: 3rd-4th round
Phil Sears/US Presswire
Brandon Brooks, Miami (OH) (6-5, 346)
Brooks was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine but was extremely impressive at his pro day. He ran just under five seconds in the 40-yard dash and posted 36 bench-press reps, which would have ranked him second in both drills amongst offensive linemen at the combine. His exceptional blend of size, speed and strength has him rising up draft boards. He was named all conference for three seasons and has experience at both guard and tackle. Brooks could be a draft steal.
Projected: 3rd-4th round
Lucas Nix, Pittsburgh (6-5, 317)
Nix is a three-year starter with experience at both right guard and right tackle. He missed five games his senior year with a knee injury. He's a nasty, brawling guard that gives max effort on every play. Yet athletically, he is at the bottom of this class. His numbers at the combine were some of the worst of all the offensive linemen. He has nowhere near the quickness to play tackle at the next level. Yet his size and strength will allow him a long career as a quality backup guard with starter potential.
Projected: 5th round
Rishaw Johnson, California (PA) (6-3, 313)
Johnson began his collegiate career at Mississippi. He was suspended as a sophomore for violating team rules and then dismissed from the team one game into his junior season. Teams will shy away from him because of his troubles at Ole Miss. Johnson is a strong run blocker with a thick frame. He shows great footwork and explosion off the ball. He can be a liability in pass protection though. He's going to fall in the draft due to character concerns but could be solid value in the later rounds.
Projected: 5th-6th round
Desmond Wynn, Rutgers (6-6, 303)
Wynn is a two-year starter that is a bit of a tweener due to his thin, tall frame. He's a strong, reliable run blocker but needs to add a few extra pounds. He doesn't have ideal athleticism, so a move to tackle is unlikely. As an in-line blocker, Wynn is very good. He uses leverage and leg drive to move defenders out of the hole. He's inconsistent in pass protection and struggles at the second level. He has value as a run blocker but will need a lot of work if he's to develop into a reliable pass protector.
Projected: 6th-7th round
Jaymes Brooks, Virginia Tech (6-2, 298)
Brooks is a three-year starter with experience at both guard and center. He's a quality run blocker but needs to develop his footwork. He needs work in pass protection as well. His versatility is attractive though and should see him selected on the third day of the draft.
Projected: 6th-7th round
Adam Gettis, Iowa (6-2, 293)
Gettis only has one year as a starter under his belt and, as such, is raw for the position. He's also a bit undersized and will need to put on weight if he's going to handle bigger defensive linemen in the pros. Gettis comes off the ball quickly and understands the value of leverage. He's a smart player with quick feet. His 5.00 40-yard dash at the combine was third best amongst offensive linemen. The Bears gave Gettis an individual workout this offseason.
Projected: 7th round
BEAR REPORT PICK
Brandon Brooks would be a great value pick in the third round. Athletically, he's second-round material. He was inexplicably not invited to the combine, which could lower his draft stock. But in the middle rounds, he'd be a steal. He has the skill set to be a starter sooner rather than later.
If the Bears wait until the later rounds, Johnson would be a solid option. He's a very good run blocker whose stock will fall due to his dismissal from Ole Miss. As a fifth-round selection, Chicago would be getting a player with starter potential.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.