Perhaps It Won't Be a Tackle at 14

Most of the mock drafts out there have the Chicago Bears taking an offensive tackle in the first round, but could they go for Rashard Mendenhall instead? Since they've recently turned their attention to one of the second-tier tackles, that just might happen. Who is the latest O-line target? Find out inside ...

Everybody knows that the Monsters of the Midway were dreadful along the offensive line this past season, unable to open holes on the ground and also not providing enough protection in the pocket.

General manager Jerry Angelo is lucky this is considered one of the deepest drafts in years at the offensive tackle position, but remember that he is a best-player-available guy when it comes to selection weekend. Even if rebuilding the blocking up front is this team's No. 1 priority in the offseason, and most experts around the league agree it is, don't be surprised if he goes with a running back like Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois or a wide receiver like Malcolm Kelly of Oklahoma if he believes either is the top talent on the board at No. 14 overall. And although he's considered a top-10 choice at this point, USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis would also be hard to pass up should he still be around.

Since there are half a dozen offensive tackles that have been given a first-round grade by most draftniks, it's possible one of them will slip and could be had in the early stages of Round 2.


OT Anthony Collins
Doug Benc/Getty Images

BearReport.com has confirmed that the Bears conducted a formal interview with Anthony Collins of Kansas – the No. 7 offensive tackle available according to Scout.com – at February's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Collins (6-5, 317) is blessed with the prototypical frame for a tackle and has added some bulk since the Jayhawks defeated Virginia Tech in the 2008 FedEx Orange Bowl in Miami. His long arms allow him to handle speed rushers off the edge, while he's also strong enough to drop the anchor and take away the bull rush. He tends to play a little high and isn't especially effective at the second level on running plays, but he has the potential to develop into a solid blocker if he works on his technique and gets more explosive off the snap.

According to Ed Thompson of Scout.com, other teams that had an official meeting with Collins at the combine were the Browns, Cardinals, Jets, Patriots, Seahawks, Steelers, and Vikings.

There are several clubs in the market for an offensive tackle in the middle of the first round, so there could be an early run on prospects like Ryan Clady of Boise State, Chris Williams of Vanderbilt, and Jeff Otah of Pittsburgh – additionally, Michigan's Jake Long is considered a lock for the top five. Mendenhall, a graduate of Niles West High School, could be the shot in the arm that the Chicago running game needs so desperately. Kelly is considered the No. 1 wideout on the board, and this is a roster that lost its top two receiving targets, Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad, during the offseason.

If the Bears do indeed select a skill-position player with the 14th choice in Round 1, Collins would make for a quality pick at No. 44 overall in the second round.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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