The Chicago Bears started four different left guards during 2012 and will need to find a starter at the position this offseason. Whether the team seeks a new starting left guard via the draft or free agency remains to be seen. A player the Bears may check out, who won't break the bank, has started every game the past four years for the Buffalo Bills.
Andy Levitre could be an intriguing option for Chicago when free agency opens on March 13th. According to ProFootballFocus (PFF), Levitre rates as the best overall free agent guard available. With that in mind, let's dig deeper into his game to find out what makes him such a good option.
Levitre measures 6-3, 305 pounds, so he's not a massive man who is going to blow defenders off the ball. Yet he's a fundamentally sound player who does everything right and doesn't make a lot of mistakes. In run blocking, he's not a mauler or road grader. He's not a guy that is going to lock onto the defensive tackle and drive him into the ground.
This is by no means a knock on him as a player because he does his job as a guard and does it well. He's a very tough kid who loves to play football and mix it up in the trenches. The term "Lunch Pail" player gets thrown around a lot, but this aptly describes Levitre.
He's not going to wow you with pancake blocks, but he is very efficient in his technique and his fundamentals. He's not going to jar the defender, but he will lock on, using proper body positioning and angles of attack, and drive his legs through the whistle.
Levitre is not an athletic guard who is going to impress you with his nimble feet or his ability to pull around the corner and target the linebacker at the second level. He can do this, but he's not like Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks or Mike Iupati in terms of athleticism.
As a pass blocker, Levitre is very good. He has a good hand punch and can anchor well. Perhaps his best attribute in pass blocking is his overall awareness in blitz pick up and stunts. He is a very smart player who has the awareness to recognize and pick up the free release defender.
Levitre is scrappy and loves to just hand fight with guys through the whistle. He never quits and rarely fails as a blocker in pass protection. Again he's not going to wow you with his skills or his ability, but his overall understanding of how to play the position is very impressive.
With Levitre you're not getting a player who will stand out and make you say, "Wow, what a force on the inside of the offensive line." He's a guy that's going to go about his job in a very quiet and very efficient manner. If the Bears are lucky enough to land him, he'd stabilize the interior of the line.
Brett Solesky has worked in TV, newspapers and, for the last seven years, in radio. He also co-hosts the best Chicago Bears podcast on the Web, Bear Report Radio, which appears on BearReport.com and his blog MidwayIllustrated.com.