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Chicago Bears 2016 Draft Preview: Guard (Round 1-3)

The Chicago Bears are in need of a legitimate starting right guard, assuming Kyle Long stays at tackle. Here is a detailed look at the top guards in the 2016 NFL Draft the Bears should consider.

Cody Whitehair, Kansas State (6-3, 300)

Whitehair started 50 games in four seasons at Kansas State, with starts at right tackle, left guard and left tackle. Last season, he was named All-Big 12 at left tackle, but he projects as a guard, or potentially center, at the next level. His 31 3/8-inch arms are a big reason why he won't be able to play on the edge in the NFL, yet he has the requisite strength and athleticism, which should help him excel as an interior blocker. He won't be a typical mauler and is best suited in a zone-blocking scheme where he can take full advantage of his agility, quickness and overall awareness. A team-oriented, mature player, Whitehair was voted team captain in 2015. 
Projected: 1st-2nd Round

Vadal Alexander, LSU (6-5, 336)

Vadal was a four-year starter for the Tigers, at right tackle his freshman and senior seasons, and at left guard his sophomore and junior years. His arms measured 34 1/4, which combined with his massive frame gives him ideal measurable for an NFL guard. He's an enormous mauler who has the strength to drive defenders off the line of scrimmage. He's also surprisingly mobile at the second level and can absolutely crush defenders on down blocks. Alexander's biggest weakness is a lack of foot speed and agility, which doesn't allow him to finish blocks. If he can build some quickness in his feet, he can be the road grader the Bears need at right guard. 
Projected: 2nd Round

Landon Turner, North Carolina (6-4, 325)

Turner is arguably the best run blocker in this year's draft class. As a North-South road grader he blows defenders off the ball, using a powerful lower body and a heavy hand jolt. As a mauler in the run game, he's exactly what the Bears need. Yet he's not fleet of foot and does not move well laterally. He's not quick down the line on pulls and traps and he struggles to mirror defenders in pass protection. He's one-dimensional, although the one thing he does well, he does very well. 
Projected: 2nd-3rd Round

Joshua Garnett, Stanford (6-4, 317)

Garnett was named an All-American last season and won the Outland Trophy, given to the nation's top interior lineman. He's a bulldozer in the run game who explodes off the ball and does well in rolling his hips to continue his drive. He's also extremely smart and shows great awareness. Garnett is limited athletically and struggles at the second level. His lack of lateral agility also poses problems for him in pass protection. Another one-dimensional gurd, Garnett is a Day 1 starter in a run-heavy offense but he'll need help on 3rd downs. 
Projected: 2nd-3rd Round

Christian Westerman, Arizona State (6-3, 296)

Westerman began his career at Auburn before transferring to ASU, where he started the last two seasons at left guard. He's undersized for a guard, which has many projecting him as a center in the pros. Westerman is as athletic as they come. He gets out of his stance in a hurry with great footwork. He has good awareness and takes proper angles at the second level. He's a technically sound move blocker who is extremely fluid and will fit very well in a zone-blocking scheme, but he's not going to plow anyone over. 
Projected: 2nd-3rd Round

Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas (6-4, 317)

Tretola is a physical, bruising blocker who plays with a mean streak. In the phone booth, his upper body strength and pure power make him dangerous. He's a competitive blocker who will upgrade any NFL team looking to run between the tackles. Yet Tretola has very short arms (30 1/2 inches) and has dealt with weight issues. He's also very stiff-legged and has heavy feet, which often leaves him spectating against quicker defenders. He's mobile but he's going to struggle mightily in pass protection at the next level. He's a raw athlete with room for improvement and doesn't project as a Day 1 starter. 

The Pick: 

Landon Turner: The Bears had a couple of decent run blocker at right guard last year in Patrick Omameh and Vladimir Ducasse, but both struggled in pass protection. Turner is that same type of player, which is concerning, but he's a far better run blocker than those two veterans. Sliding Turner next to Kyle Long would create a dominant run-blocking right side for Chicago's offense. 

To become an all-around player, Turner will to need to refine his technique in pass protection and build some flexibility in his lower body. If he does that, he'll certainly warrant a high pick in this year's draft. But, at the very least, he can come in from Day 1 and provide a major boost to the Bears' between-the-tackles run game. If Turner falls to the 3rd round, the Bears should give him strong consideration. 


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