Prospect Watch: NFL Combine OLs

Losing his starting job to Frank Omiyale at guard and not ready to unseat Olin Kreutz at center, can Josh Beekman turn it around? The Chicago Bears liked two potential replacements at the combine.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo announced last offseason that he had a shift in philosophy with regard to offensive linemen, now preferring tackles that can also play guard as opposed to guards that can also play center.

That sounded like a direct shot at Josh Beekman, who was a fourth-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft out of Boston College and started all 16 games for Chicago at left guard the following year. Beekman spent some time at both guard and center during his collegiate career, leading to speculation that he could be the heir to Olin Kreutz, the six-time Pro Bowler only signed through 2010. But instead of letting Beekman bide his time at guard before Kreutz hangs it up, Angelo signed Frank Omiyale as a free agent and forced the career backup tackle down the coaching staff's throat as the new starter at left guard, benching Beekman in the process.

Even with some buzz around Halas Hall that Omiyale could be playing right tackle this season, the undersized Beekman seems like the odd man out again.

Scout.com has confirmed that the Bears spent a good amount of time at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis with Arizona State guard Shawn Lauvao and New Mexico center Erik Cook.


G Shawn Lauvao
Arizona State University Athletics

Just as Angelo prefers, Lauvao played both guard and tackle for the Sun Devils, although he projects best at the next level as a pulling guard. A second-team All-Pac-10 selection as a senior, Lauvao battled through injuries to have a fine career at ASU. Cook is listed as a center but can also play guard, and his older brother, Ryan Cook, is a lineman with the NFC North-rival Vikings. A first-team All-Mountain West pick in 2009, Cook was a preseason finalist for the coveted Rimington Trophy, given annually to the nation's top center.

According to Scout.com's rankings, the 6-2.5, 301-pound Lauvao is currently the No. 9 guard available for the 2010 NFL Draft. The 6-5, 301-pound Cook is the No. 11 center.

JC's Take: While it would be premature to suggest that Beekman's roster spot is in jeopardy at this point, there is no question he has fallen out of favor at Halas Hall.

It was inadequate blocking up front contributing the most to quarterback Jay Cutler struggling so much his first year in Chicago, but once Chris Williams took over for Orlando Pace at left tackle, the protection gradually improved. So did Omiyale's play at left guard, which is why it would be somewhat strange if he is switched back to tackle all of a sudden. One way or another, Beekman doesn't appear to be in the running for a starting job again any time soon.

Because several of Angelo's earlier draft picks will likely be used to help rejuvenate a disappointing defense, late-round linemen prospects like Lauvao and Cook are names worth remembering in April.

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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.


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