Bears Draft Preview: OT (Rounds 1-3)

The Chicago Bears offensive line needs upgrades on the edges and could look to the draft to find a long-term offensive tackle. Below, we break down the top offensive tackles in this year’s class.

The Chicago Bears in 2014 allowed 41 sacks, 13th most in the NFL.

Of those 41 sacks, 11 were the fault of right tackle Jordan Mills and Jermon Bushrod. The duo also combined for 62 QB hurries (31 apiece).

By comparison, Michael Ola started four games on the edges – two at left tackle, two at right tackle – and didn’t give up a single sack as a tackle. When you consider Ola struggled for most of the year, it gives you a better idea of how undependable Mills and Bushrod were last season.

Bushrod turns 31 in August. On a per-season basis, he’s the highest paid offensive tackle in franchise history, yet he hasn’t lived up to his contract the past two years. The Bears won’t waive him this year – he carries $7.6 million in dead money in 2015 – yet the club could clear $4.3 million in cap space in 2016 by cutting Bushrod.

If Bushrod can’t get back on track, he may be entering his final year in Chicago.

Mills started 29 games his first two NFL seasons but still hasn’t found his groove. He’s allowed 93 QB hurries the past two years, which is borderline ridiculous and nearly three times as many as Kyle Long (34).

With uncertainty surrounding both tackle spots, expect the Bears to address the position in this year’s draft. Here is a break down of the top offensive tackles in the 2015 class.

Brandon Scherff , Iowa (6-5, 319)

Scherff is a powerful, technically sound tackle. A four-year starter for the Hawkeyes, he won the Outland Trophy last year, given to the most outstanding lineman in the country. He played left tackle in college but is projected as a right tackle in the NFL due to his ability to maul in the run game. He’s so strong in the rushing attack, some see him as a guard at the next level. That type of versatility goes a long way with NFL teams.
Projected: Round 1

Andrus Peat, Stanford (6-7, 313)

Peat has ideal height and arm length (34.5 inches). His thighs are huge, providing him a lot of power in his leg churn. He has good quickness and balance, and is solid at the second level. He’s not a force in the run game and is a pure left tackle who could excel as a blindside protector. He’s more of a finesse player but Peat is a Day 1 NFL starter on the blindside.
Projected: Round 1

La’el Collins, Louisiana Tech (6-4, 305)

Collins is a bruising lineman who started at both guard and tackle during his collegiate

career. He shows a lot of upper body strength on film and can bury defenders in the run game once he gains leverage. He has quick feet and gets to the second level in a hurry. There are concerns about his ability to pass protect in the NFL, particularly his inconsistent hand usage. As a result, some feel he’s best suited at guard. Yet he’s athletic enough to play right tackle and still has room to grow into the position.
Projected: Round 1

Ereck Flowers, Miami (6-6, 329)

Flowers was under the radar coming into the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine but shot up draft boards after a strong performance in Indianapolis. He led all offensive linemen in the bench press (37 reps) and showed good quickness in field drills, despite his massive size. Flowers is so big, he’ll likely have to shift to right tackle or even guard in the NFL. He might struggle with speed rushers but his power at the point of attack is going to give him great value in a pro-style run game.
Projected: Round 1

T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh (6-5, 309)

Clemmings is a former high school basketball player who played defensive end at Pitt his first two seasons. He started 26 games at left tackle the past two years but that’s the full extent of his experience as an offensive lineman. As you can guess, he’s very raw and has a lot of holes in his game, but his potential is off the charts. He’s extremely long (35 1/8-inch arms) and athletic. He’s fluid in protection and packs a punch in the run game. He’s inexperienced and may not be able to start right away but if Clemmings reaches his ceiling, he has the potential to be a Pro-Bowl left tackle in the NFL.
Projected: Round 1-2

Jake Fisher, Oregon (6-6, 306)

Fisher is a former tight end who is extremely fluid and athletic. He tested very well at the combine and shows solid quickness and movement on tape. He started two seasons at right tackle and his senior year at left tackle. He’s considered more polished than his former teammate, Kyle Long. Fisher isn’t very powerful and struggles to get push in the run game, yet he’s solid at the second level. In a zone-blocking system, Fisher will be a quality edge protector in the pros.
Projected: Round 2

D.J. Humphries, Florida (6-5, 307)

Humphries is arguably the most athletic offensive tackle in this year’s class. He mirrors defenders well in pass protection and has elite quickness. He’s a smooth mover and does damage at the second level. He finishes blocks and plays with a very nasty demeanor. Humphries is not technically sound and bends far too much at the waist. He struggles with hand placement as well. If he can shore up some of his fundamentals, Humphries could be a starter on either edge in the NFL.
Projected: Round 2

Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State (6-6, 311)

Sambrailo is a fundamentally sound blocker with a good football IQ. His high-level footwork and agility makes him a very effective pass protector. He knows how to use his hands and has great change-of-direction ability. As a run blocker, Sambrailo struggles and does not show a lot of power. He also has short arms (33 inches) for a player of his height, which could hurt him at the next level.
Projected: Round 2-3

Daryl Williams, Oklahoma (6-5, 327)

Williams is a physical specimen. He’s huge and has very long arms (35 inches). He’s an absolute road grader in the run game who explodes off the ball. He uses consistent leg churn to drive defenders and his heavy, violent hands help move defensive linemen to his liking. He’s not light of foot and could struggle against speedy edge rushers in the NFL. Williams’ combination of size, strength and length make him very attractive as a plug-and-play right tackle.
Projected: Round 3

Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M (6-5, 306)

Ogbuehi is a quality pass blocker with great lateral agility. He’s light on his feet and his arms are nearly 36 inches long. He plays with power at times but lacks consistent push. He played both tackle spots and right guard, and should fit very well in a zone system. Ogbuehi tore his ACL in the Aggie’s bowl game and won’t be fully healed come draft time. The injury will hurt his draft stock but his length and versatility could make him a solid pickup in the third round.
Projected: Round 3

THE PICK: D.J. Humphries, Florida

Chicago’s need at offensive tackle is significant. Jay Cutler is a turnover machine when he’s under fire, so finding edge protection is crucial for GM Ryan Pace in this year’s draft.

Humphries will cost the Bears a second-round pick but he’s worth the investment. He’s as athletic as any lineman in this class and can play on either edge. He’s a tight end who blocks like a tackle. He has long arms and good height, and he plays with an attitude.

Humphries could begin his career at right tackle, where he’d be an immediate upgrade over Mills in both the run game and in pass protection. Down the line, after he’s refined his technique, the Bears could shift Humphries to left tackle in place of Bushrod.

His size, versatility and athleticism make Humphries a quality second-round selection, one who could immediate contribute to Chicago’s offense.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.

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