Everyone remembers Matt Forte having a sensational rookie year for the Monsters of the Midway and Kyle Orton not getting sacked very often, but they both did a great job of hiding flaws along the offensive line.
While GM Jerry Angelo may have lost John Tait to retirement and John St. Clair to free agency, he's added three quality players during the offseason that can all challenge for a starting spot: talented youngster Frank Omiyale, veteran starter Kevin Shaffer, and future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace. But even though Omiyale was specifically brought it to compete at either guard position, like both Shaffer and Pace, he's a tackle by nature. Bringing in another guard prospect to groom for the future in the upcoming NFL Draft would be a wise idea.
Rich Ohrnberger of Penn State has already visited with the heads at Halas Hall for a pre-draft interview, but does he have a future on Sunday?
To help answer that question, Bear Report enlisted the help of Mark Brennan, who is the Publisher of FightOnState.com on the Scout.com network.
Strengths: Ohrnberger was a three-year starter at guard and won All-Big Ten honors as a senior on the left side. He is extremely strong and runs well enough to pull and get to the second level. He started the final 36 games of his career, which is a testament to his durability. He was penalty prone early in his tenure at Penn State but improved significantly in that area the past two seasons. It was a bit of a head-scratcher that Ohrnberger did not earn an invitation to the Scouting Combine. We can only guess it happened because scouts had enough tape of him and wanted to get a longer look at some less-well-known prospects. So he had to make the best of things at PSU Pro Day, and he appeared to do just that. Ohrnberger ran a sub-5.2 40 and bench pressed 225 31 times. "It went well," Ohrnberger said. "I got some attention from some of the teams who were there, their offensive line coaches, so it was a great day."
Weaknesses: Ohrnberger sometimes had his hands full with the quicker defensive tackles he faced. That was particularly true when the PSU staff moved him to right guard to go head to head with Iowa's Mitch King in 2008. And though he usually played well against bigger defensive tackles, at 6-2 and 301 pounds, Ohrnberger will likely have to add some bulk if he hopes to be an every-down player at the next level.
Brennan Says: Penn State has not exactly been a factory for NFL guards the past decade, with only one former Lion playing the position in the league last year (Tyler Reed of the Bears). The Nittany Lions have not had a guard taken before the fifth round since Jeff Hartings was a first-rounder in 1996. Ohnberger has a chance to change that. Though on the light side for the position, he is an excellent athlete who has room to pack on bulk. If he can maintain his speed while adding size, he should enjoy a productive NFL career. We predict he'll be a mid-round pick based on that potential.
JC's Take: Bears fans have to feel much more comfortable at the tackle position, especially if Pace can stay healthy after three injury-plagued years to close out his career in St. Louis, but guard is another story.
Neither Josh Beekman nor Roberto Garza inspires a ton of confidence for the future at left or right guard, respectively. Beekman played reasonably well this past season, his first as a starter, but he's still somewhat undersized by NFL standards and was whistled for a handful of pre-snap penalties. Garza has been a serviceable starter upon taking over for the disappointing Terrence Metcalf midway through the 2005 campaign, although he probably wouldn't start for more than half the teams in the league and has nowhere to go but down at this point.
But even if Ohrnberger indeed has an orange C on his helmet come training camp in Bourbonnais, it appears he'll need some seasoning and won't be ready to contribute for at least a year or two.
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Insider Analysis: G Rich Ohrnberger
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