The Monsters of the Midway were better running the football in 2008 than they were in '07, plus the quarterback wasn't sacked as much, but don't be fooled into thinking that this offensive line is a finished product.
The entire offseason plan was up in smoke once first-round draft pick Chris Williams went down with a back injury on the second day of training camp, as the rookie was supposed to step in and start right away at left tackle. His absence forced career reserve John St. Clair into that role, and while he performed quite well at the start of the year, he faded to some degree down the stretch. John Tait benefited by moving from left tackle over to the less taxing right tackle spot, but he's an average player at best these days.
Despite the instability at tackle, there are just as many question marks at guard, where youngster Josh Beekman and veteran Roberto Garza were both good but not great this past season. As a result, Bears officials took a prolonged look at Wisconsin offensive lineman Kraig Urbik, who played a lot of tackle for the Badgers but projects best as a guard in the NFL, at the Senior Bowl in Mobile.
According to Benjamin Worgull, the Publisher of BadgerNation.com on the Scout.com network, Urbik should be commended for his versatility but may never develop into a consistent starter on Sunday.
Worgull Says: Kraig is a very versatile player that can play either the guard or tackle position. He's extremely durable – he started 45 straight games before an injury forced him to miss two games in the middle of the season. If he has a weakness, it's probably his size. Urbik was around 320 pounds in college, and for the NFL game he'll probably need to put on some weight and improve his quickness. Wisconsin linemen just aren't asked to do much more than create a big hole for the running back. I think Urbik will be a solid backup in the NFL. If he adds some weight and quickness, I wouldn't be surprised to see him as a spot starter or a goal-line/special-teams player at the next level.
JC's Take: Beekman is still young and growing into his body, so there's reason to believe he can get better and become a force down in the trenches before it's all said and done.
Garza, conversely, is a limited player and may be reaching the point of diminishing returns. He can still be a solid contributor provided he's sandwiched between a great center and a great tackle, but the fact that Tait isn't the blocker he used to be in his prime and Olin Kreutz is no longer a Pro Bowler makes Garza even less effective. If there is one position along the O-line where a rookie might be able to step in and compete immediately, it's right guard.
Urbik isn't as highly regarded as Oregon State's Andy Levitre, who the Bears also scouted closely at the Senior Bowl, so the Badger could just be a backup plan if the Beaver is already off the board.
Insider Analysis: G Kraig Urbik
Bear Report Top Stories
Hold 'em or Fold 'em: Tracy PorterShould the Chicago Bears re-sign veteran cornerback Tracy Porter, who will soon become an unrestricted free agent?
Bear Report11:30 AM
Bears Free Agent Options: CornerbackA comprehensive break down of the top cornerbacks the Chicago Bears should be targeting once free agency begins in early March.
Bear Report8:52 AM
Bears Free Agent Options: CenterA detailed break down of the free agent centers the Chicago Bears should be targeting this upcoming off-season.
Bear ReportYesterday at 11:09 AM
Plenty of potential future Bears in SB50The Chicago Bears will be keeping a close eye on Super Bowl 50, where a number of their upcoming free-agent targets will be performing.
Bear ReportSaturday at 9:36 AM
Bears Free Agent Options: GuardA complete break down of the veteran NFL guards the Chicago Bears should pursue once free agency begins on March 9.
Bear ReportFriday at 11:21 AM