The Chicago Bears last season made the bold decision to move Kyle Long from guard, where he had earned two trips to the Pro Bowl, to right tackle.
That left a hole in the offensive line at right guard, which was initially filled by Vladimir Ducasse.
Ducasse was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft out of UMass by the New York Jets, where he played his first four seasons in the NFL. Yet despite his size (6-5, 325) he could not crack the starting lineup in New York, starting just four games in four years with the Jets.
In 2014, he signed with the Minnesota Vikings and started six contests at guard.
The Bears last off-season signed Ducasse to a veteran-minimum one-year deal ($825,000).
In place of Long, Ducasse showed good power at the point of attack. He was above average as a run blocker, using his massive frame to maul opposing defensive linemen. Albeit inconsistent, his run-blocking prowess carried the right side of the offensive line through the first half of the season, while Long struggled to acclimate to his new position.
Yet Ducasse was porous in pass protection. In 416 pass-block snaps, he gave up 2 sacks, 3 QB hits and 23 QB hurries.
As a result, the Bears benched Ducasse in Week 10 in favor of Patrick Omameh. Injuries at center forced Matt Slauson to slide inside for the final two contests, which put Ducasse back in the starting lineup at left guard. All together, he started 11 games in Chicago last season, which equaled his total number of starts his previous five seasons combined.
So should the Bears consider re-signing Ducasse this off-season?
While he wasn't horrible in any phase of the game, Ducasse was arguably the worst overall blocker for the Bears last season - although Hroniss Grasu made a strong case for himself. Ducasse doesn't have good balance or lateral agility. He doesn't mirror defenders well in pass protection and tends to lunge out over his toes. Quick interior defenders gave him a lot of trouble.
He has value as a run blocker and he can play both guard positions, so he might be worth another veteran-minimum contract to come back and compete for the swing guard spot. But as a starter, the Bears can do better.
Ducasse was a fill-in piece last season, as GM Ryan Pace didn't have the cap space to spend freely in free agency. This off-season, Pace has money coming out of his ears, so it doesn't make much sense to "settle" on a player of Ducasse's caliber when there are a number of more consistent options that will soon hit the open market.null