Instant Analysis: Omiyale to Tackle

After much speculation, offensive coordinator Mike Martz made it known Tuesday that left guard Frank Omiyale is switching to right tackle for the Chicago Bears. The first domino has fallen. What's next?

Frank Omiyale

Although he did play much better down the stretch following a midseason benching, Omiyale struggled as the starting left guard after spending his entire NFL career as a backup tackle. While there must be some egg on general manager Jerry Angelo's face since he targeted the 6-4, 310-pounder long ago as an ideal candidate for the move inside, it would have been much worse had Omiyale been removed from the lineup altogether. At right tackle, he'll play a more important position as the bookend opposite left tackle Chris Williams but won't be battling too many elite pass rushers on that side of the line.

Status Update: Omiyale better prove he can play right tackle and justify the four-year, $14 million contract he got from Angelo last offseason, or else his time as a starter in this league will be over.

Josh Beekman

Considered a bargain as a fourth-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Beekman took over at left guard in 2008 when veteran Ruben Brown was delivered his walking papers. Beekman may not have played like a future Pro Bowler, but he did help pave the way for a breakout season from then-rookie running back Matt Forte and should only have gotten better going forward. However, once Angelo changed his philosophy along the offensive line, now preferring tackles that can also play guard rather than guards that can also play center, Beekman didn't have a chance to hold off Omiyale despite arguably being a better blocker.


G Josh Beekman
AP Images: Nam Y. Huh

Status Update: The coaching staff still seems to be down on Beekman, so even if he is currently atop the depth chart at left guard, expect a draft choice or free agent signee to take that gig away from him in 2010.

Kevin Shaffer

Shaffer essentially traded places with John St. Clair this past offseason, with the former Brown Shaffer ending up the swing tackle in Chicago and the former Bear St. Clair starting at right tackle in Cleveland. Once future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace proved to have nothing left in the tank, the Bears parlayed his relatively minor groin injury into the excuse they were looking for to bench Pace, move Williams to left tackle and get Shaffer in the lineup on the right side. He didn't do anything to hurt his cause, but Shaffer didn't do enough to make Omiyale's flip back to tackle unnecessary.

Status Update: Much like St. Clair, Shaffer is better served as a swing tackle off the bench than as an every-week starter, whether he likes it that way or not.

Lance Louis, Johan Asiata

A seventh rounder in last year's draft that started his collegiate career as a tight end, Louis ended up playing pretty well in training camp as a reserve left tackle and made the 53-man roster coming out of the preseason. An undrafted rookie free agent a year ago, Asiata bounced on and off the practice squad most of 2009 but earned himself a futures contract, so he'll get a shot to stick with the Bears as a backup.

Status Update: It's hard to make a judgment now before the draft, plus free agency will spike again this summer, but look for Louis to get some reps behind Beekman at left guard and perhaps create some competition there.


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John Crist is the Publisher of BearReport.com, a Heisman Trophy voter 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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