BearReport.com has confirmed that the Bears have shown serious interest in seven offensive linemen building up to the 2010 NFL Draft, but most of them are late-round flyers or potential undrafted rookie free agent-types.
The two premier prospects apparently on Chicago's radar are Vladimir Ducasse and Rodger Saffold, and although both of them played left tackle in college, Ducasse is probably a guard at the next level and Saffold may be better off on the right side. Either could compete for a starting job in the Windy City right away, with Ducasse perhaps ending the Frank Omiyale experiment at guard or Saffold simply beating out incumbent Kevin Shaffer at right tackle. What the Bears ultimately decide to do with Omiyale will likely affect which position they choose to address in the draft, although Ducasse and Saffold are both seeing their stock rise and neither may be on the board at No. 75 overall in Round 3 – that's the first time general manager Jerry Angelo will be choosing next month.
While the Midway Monsters did block better down the stretch last season and appear to have a competent starter at all five O-line positions, there is still plenty of room for improvement and depth is certainly an issue.
With some help from Scout.com NFL Draft analyst Chris Steuber, here is a closer look at the two offensive line prospects in question:
Vladimir DucasseA 6-5, 326-pounder from Massachusetts, Ducasse is the No. 2 guard available for the 2010 NFL Draft according to Scout.com's rankings and projects to be a second-round pick.
"Ducasse is a massive interior presence who possesses the attributes you want out of a lineman. He's quick off the snap, has great strength and is able to maul the opposition on the line. He's surprisingly athletic and has long arms that help him in pass protection. He initiates the contact and gets a great push in running situations. He's agile is space and can get to the second level. He has a mean streak and a positive work ethic. He's durable and has a lot of experience."
– Chris Steuber, Scout.com
Rodger SaffoldA 6-5, 306-pounder from Indiana, Saffold is the No. 6 offensive tackle available for the 2010 NFL Draft according to Scout.com's rankings and projects to be a second-round pick.
"Saffold is an athletic, durable lineman who has extensive experience at left tackle, but he could also play guard if necessary. He has great size and quick feet that allow him to mirror a defender off the edge. He's fast out of his set and possesses a smooth kick slide. He moves well laterally, extends his arms and has the upper-body strength and technique to knock the opposition off his rush. He's aware of his surroundings, works well with his teammates and has the athleticism to pick up the blitz. He generates a burst off the line, plays with leverage and is able to seal the opposition away from the ball carrier. He's agile enough to get to the second level and latches on to linebackers, taking them out of the play. He's a highly-intelligent and hard-working individual who continues to improve every time he's on the field. He has drastically improved his draft stock this offseason with standout workouts."
– Chris Steuber, Scout.com
Conclusion: Because the Bears refuse to confirm whether Omiyale will be sticking at guard or moving to tackle, it's quite possible they're waiting to see who they can add in the draft before making that decision.
Unfortunately for Angelo and Co., it seems the rest of the league has caught on to the talent possessed by Ducasse and Saffold, as both arrived at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis with late second- or early third-round grades. But if the draft was held today, chances are Ducasse doesn't escape Round 2, while Saffold might even work his way into the last few picks of Round 1. As Angelo has repeated time and time again this offseason, he simply doesn't have the ammunition necessary to make a move up the draft board, not after dealing his first- and second-round selections for Jay Cutler and the late Gaines Adams, respectively.
While the Bears should be ecstatic to land either player in Round 3, Ducasse is more likely to be there and can play left guard immediately – Omiyale looks to be headed to right tackle anyway.
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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.
Draft Decisions: Ducasse vs. Saffold
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