With the moves the Chicago Bears have made thus far in free agency, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them go offense in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Bears still have some needs on the offensive side of the ball, which they will likely address in the draft.
One of those needs is on the offensive line, and a key position at that: left tackle. That’s where prospect Ronnie Stanley enters the picture.
Name: Ronnie Stanley
School: Notre Dame
Stanley turned down the chance to be a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and returned to Notre Dame his senior year. His play earned him a spot on the 2015 second-team All-American list and he was named Notre Dame’s 2014 Offensive Lineman of the Year. Stanley was also named the Polynesian Player of the Year in college football. He made 13 starts at right tackle as a sophomore and a combined 27 at left tackle in his junior and senior seasons.
40-yard dash: 5.20 seconds
20-yard dash: 3.03
10-yard dash: 1.79
Shuttle drill: 4.90
3-cone drill: 8.03 seconds
When looking for an offensive lineman that can be part of your core future of the team, long arms is a big positive. That’s exactly what Stanley has: 35 5/8 inches. His quick hands really stand out on tape, as he makes sure he gets his hands into the pass rusher first.
Stanley plays with a high motor and is someone that can protect your quarterback from the blind side. He rarely stops on a play early and can get downfield to block when needed. He really stands out in passing situations, as he’s quick to the jump.
While Stanley is good in pass protection, his run blocking really needs some work. Taking a look at his feet on rushing plays, Stanley fails to establish the proper technique to win the matchup with the defender. Stanley’s balance could use a little work, especially against speedy edge rushers.
Will he fit with the Bears?
The Bears are in need of some help protecting quarterback Jay Cutler, especially on the blind side. While the team says they are happy with Charles Leno at tackle, they'll take the chance to upgrade if it's there at No. 11 overall. Stanley fits that mold as the franchise left tackle to protect the quarterback.
Getting a talent like Stanley to line-up next to left guard Matt Slauson on a line that also features Kyle Long would be a plus. Chicago does need some defensive help, but the draft is deep with talent on that side of the ball. Finding an offensive tackle this good later in the draft likely isn’t possible.
In Chicago's offense, Stanley could excel in the pass-blocking game. His run-blocking needs some work but is really something they could fix with time. The athletic tackle is great for quick, high-percentage throws in the offense and could be valuable in the screen game.
The only problem for the Bears would be their draft position. Stanley is projected to go as high as No. 6 in some mock drafts.