Few Bears fans knew who Frank Omiyale was when general manager Jerry Angelo signed him to a four-year, $14 million contract last offseason, but they all know who is now – for the wrong reasons, unfortunately.
Despite spending his NFL career to date as a backup tackle for both the Falcons and Panthers, Omiyale was targeted by Angelo as a perfect candidate for the move inside, fitting the mold of a bigger-and-stronger guard he now wanted to employ. Instead of guards that can also play center, like he already possessed in Josh Beekman and apparently wasn't happy with, Angelo wanted tackles that can also play guard. But by Week 8, the Omiyale experiment was deemed a complete disaster, with Beekman reclaiming his starting job between Olin Kreutz and Orlando Pace.
Omiyale ended the season as the starter and actually played much better down the stretch, but it remains to be seen if he did enough to re-convince Angelo and Co. the money they invested last February was indeed well spent.
Scout.com has confirmed that Massachusetts offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse had an official meeting with the Bears leading up to Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile.
Voted a first-team FCS All-American by The Associated Press his senior season for the Minutemen, Ducasse played the majority of his collegiate career at tackle but seems to be built like a prototypical guard at the next level. Amazingly light on his feet for a big man, he moves well both in traffic and out in space and can devour defenders with his massive frame and long arms. On the downside, he has not played a lot of football and is behind when it comes to the instinctual part of the game, but if this youngster ever truly gets it, watch out.
The 6-5, 330-pound Ducasse is currently Scout.com's No. 2 guard prospect for the 2010 NFL Draft.
JC's Take: The need for depth at the guard position is even more important for the Bears now, as Kreutz had surgery Thursday on his Achilles and will be out four to six months.
That probably means Beekman is going to spend the entire offseason at center and perhaps give Chicago a glimpse into the future, as Kreutz's contract is up after next year and his play has slid drastically since his last Pro Bowl selection in 2006. That leaves starters Omiyale and Roberto Garza as the only two guards on the roster right now, unless the immortal Tyler Reed comes back for yet another run on the practice squad – yes, Bears fans, Reed is still in the mix after being waived/injured Aug. 26 and passing through waivers unclaimed. Some would argue that Omiyale would be most valuable as a versatile reserve, filling in at either guard or tackle in a pinch, but currently his starting job at left guard can't even be threatened by Beekman because of the Kreutz situation at center.
Early word out of Mobile is that Ducasse struggled the first few days of Senior Bowl workouts but improved later in the week, so even if he lasted until Chicago's pick in Round 3, he likely wouldn't contribute as a rookie.
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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.
Prospect Watch: Senior Bowl OL
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