The Bears do not their admit mistakes often, and although they never acknowledged that signing Orlando Pace was indeed a bad idea, keeping him on the bench behind Chris Williams after a minor late-season injury was a quasi-admission of guilt.
Despite being signed to a three-year, $15 million contract the very same day Chicago acquired Jay Cutler from the Broncos back in April, Pace will certainly be shown the door after a disappointing end to an eventual Hall of Fame career. Williams is now exactly what he was expected to be once he was taken in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft: the left tackle of the future. Kevin Shaffer did a decent job at right tackle once he finally got his shot following Pace's groin injury, but near his 30th birthday and never more than an adequate starter in this league, the Bears have to find an heir apparent capable of bookending with Williams for the long haul.
It would make sense for general manager Jerry Angelo to add a young tackle with his first pick in April's draft – No. 75 overall in Round 3 – even if he can't come in and start right away, which would put someone like LSU's Ciron Black on the radar.
For an insider's perspective on the 6-4, 331-pound Black and what he brings to the table as a pro prospect, BearReport.com consulted with Chris Steuber, the NFL Draft analyst for Scout.com. ...
Strengths: Black is an experienced left tackle who possesses great upper-body strength. He swallows up defenders with his long arms and brute strength, not allowing them to turn the corner. He plays with balance and presents a solid base. He uses his strength to his advantage and not only excels in pass protection, but he does a good job in run blocking. He delivers a devastating initial punch to the opposition, driving them off the line and sealing them away from the ball carrier. He's a very intimidating presence.
Weaknesses: He lacks athleticism and struggles to get depth on his kick slide off the snap. He doesn't move well laterally and doesn't get to the second level consistently.
Steuber Says: Black finished his career at LSU starting 52 consecutive games at left tackle. However, even though he's been a left tackle in college, he doesn't translate to playing the position as a pro. He lacks the athleticism and is too slow to keep up with the pass rushers in the NFL. He will probably move to guard or right tackle. Black has to improve his feet and quickness to have a chance at being a starter at the next level.
JC's Take: Luckily for the Bears, they already have Williams in the lineup and would be able to put Black at right tackle, where it certainly sounds like he has a better chance to succeed.
Assuming Pace is released during the offseason and Frank Omiyale continues to be the starter at left guard, that means the only tackles on the roster right now behind starters Williams and Shaffer are Lance Louis and James Marten. Louis was playing tight end at the collegiate level not too long ago and is still considered awfully raw, while Marten has suited up for a grand total of one NFL game since being selected in the third round of the 2007 draft by the Cowboys. Black would be able to come in as a rookie and learn slowly behind Williams and Shaffer, and if the youngster develops into a starting option quicker than expected, Shaffer still has value as a reserve swing tackle.
New offensive coordinator Mike Martz has proven he can move the football no matter the skill-position talent at his disposal, but the Bears aren't going to score more points in 2010 unless the blocking up front improves dramatically.
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Mobile Analysis: OT Ciron Black
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