Sure, the analogy is definitely out of left field, but the general idea stands. When you go to the flea market looking for a particular item you need to get there early, you need to have a really good grasp of what you're looking for, and you have to know what flaws you can fix and which render your prized possession garage fodder. So with all of that in mind, we know that we need a new OG of some kind. Omiyale could possibly pan out as a RT, but he has no future in the guard position from what we've seen. Shaffer hasn't looked fantastic at any point, and while his run blocking history could spell a move to guard its a complete unknown which is the exact opposite of what we need to get this line in better shape next year. Beekman is probably moving inside to center following this season, and Garza isn't getting any younger. So let's sit down and make a quick assessment of what we have.
1. We have our LT, or at least we better if we have any hope of pulling out of the OL tail spin next year.
Chris Williams AKA CDub has the makings of a really good left tackle, that's what his finesse skill set lends him to playing and that's what we drafted him for. Left tackles of course carry a premium so we need to cross our fingers that this doesn't end up being a complete miss.
2. Beekman has the makings of good center.
He's very intelligent, seems to work well blocking inside and in support, he's bigger than Kreutz, and he has time in the system.
Where does that leave us realistically for next year?
We have Omiyale as a possible RT, back up tackle,or being cut. We have Shaffer/Lance Louis/Garza as also rans in this group of misfit toys, Garza being the only proven contributor but definitely reaching the point of no return as far as on-set of decline. Garza is going to be staying with team either way as far as I see, he knows the position very well and would be valuable even in a back up role, or specially in a back up role depending on how his health holds up. Lance Louis is a complete unknown, and what we know about Shaffer so far isn't good.
That leaves us with two guard positions in desperate need of talent and/or competition, and a possible need at RT depending on how Omiyale would look there. Now then, here comes the second half of the flea market analogy.
We don't have the draft capital to stop by the offensive line store and pick up whatever we need off the top shelf. We're going to need to go the flea market that is better known now as the second day of the NFL draft. This isn't the end of the world though, as everyone that has had the joy of heading to the flea market goes. There are a million and one things at the flea market, and you can usually find all kinds of great deals. However there is the first problem with the flea market, it's extremely easy to get side tracked. Sure, that 8 track player with 20 decks might be a great deal for a buck fifty, however if you need a bicycle pump and you blow your money before you find one you're going to be stuck listening to Queen next your bike with a flat tire. In our case, we need to stay away from those great bubble WR that fell out of the first day. We need to just say no to the crystal ball ornaments and lawn gnomes known as the plethora of linebackers that we have spilling out of our collective seems. Yes, they make great ST players. Yes, having a hundred linebackers paid off this year, however when you have four straight LB injured in one way or another and you still have some sitting on the bench, you just might have too many of them.
So now that we established the need to focus on our most glaring need since it's hampering our entire offense, both running and passing, we now need to address the second pitfall of the flea market. Identifying the flaws that allowed such high quality merchandize to end up sitting in Crazy Joe's shack in the middle of a field at 9AM on a Saturday morning. Some things are fixable, some things are ignorable, and some things are absolute deal breakers. If we find an air pump that has a loose handle, we can tighten up some screws and enjoy a nice bike ride by the end of the day. If we find an air pump that is rusted, pink, covered in Hello Kitty stickers, and generally is an embarassment to look at, we can ignore that as long as it blows up the tire to get where we need to be. However, if we have an air pump with broken handle, it's useless to us, but luckily that is something you can see from a mile away. There are more nefarious problems that can hide from plain view like a nice little pin hole in the rubber line that doesn't show itself until you start pumping. It may look like a million bucks, and since we'll be paying about that much for whatever "bike pump" we grab in the third round it probably will, but it may be just as worthless as this proverbial pump, just hopefully minus the Hello Kitty stickers.
Now for the upside of this whole sordid affair, and it wouldn't be the Bears without one. JA and our scouting department are about as close to the farmers, elderly, college kids, and other flea market fare that come out every Saturday. They are there every week, constantly putting extra time scouring the shacks and tables for every last bit of value that exists. They are old hats at exactly this kind of talent evaluation, and should really be in their element come the 2010 draft. They just have to be careful not to be mesmerized by the shiny baubles they tend gravitate to from time to time IE: Wolfe, Okwo, et all. They have the ability to find diamonds in the rough just as long as they stay away from the costume jewelery table .
Now with that long overstretched analogy out of the way, let's take a real quick early look at some of the options that are probably going to be around for us in Round 3 and later. I'd like to thank Mocking the Draft for some of their excellent player descriptions as well, and for CBS sports for having the most up to date 2010 draft stock tracker I've seen.
|Mike Johnson | 6'6, 305 pounds | Alabama|
An All-American last season, Johnson is a gutty, smart guard who has played multiple positions along the offensive line. He enters the season starting 27 consecutive games and has really made his mark as a left guard. He's a powerful drive blocker who uses his natural length to create space. His base could get stronger, but he has starter potential at the next level.
The highest ranked player that I'm going to list here as he does have a good chance of making it to the third round, but has the talent to be picked in the second by a team that falls in love without being a huge reach. He fits the Bears mold of valuing versatility, and has a nice resume to show of his talents.
|Mitch Petrus | 6'5, 288 pounds | Arkansas|
Petrus has only played one season at guard after playing fullback for Arkansas. That was 2007 when he was a second-team all-conference pick at left guard. He was academically ineligible last season. He'll play right guard this year. He's an excellent blocker on the move. What sets Petrus apart is his attitude. He's an aggressive player with a nasty demeanor and can intimidate opponents.
I'm normally not the biggest fan of converted FB, but he has put on some decent mass this year with last I heard coming in a bit over 300lb. The whole agressively nasty thing is what really spins my wheels on this one as I'd love to see some fire on the offensive line, specially at RG, and specially with Kreutz and his right hook likely leaving us this off-season.
|Sergio Render | 6'3, 314 pounds | Virginia Tech|
A lengthy, hard working interior lineman, Render excels in the run game. He consistently gets good hand positioning to move around defenders. Anchors well at the point of attack and can handle power rushers. Not an amazing athlete, but he's pretty good on the move. If he doesn't get hurt, he'll be a four-year starter at guard for Virginia Tech and is a two-time all-conference selection.
It always amuses me all the talk that happens about the athleticism of interior linemen, granted there is a lot more than the majority of jobs out there in the world, but we are talking about a position where it is completely acceptable to be sucking O2 after each series. What do they expect as far as athleticism goes with these guys, do we want them to be able to jump out of a pool too? I'll take a hard working huge strong guy that smashes people in the run game. Thanks.
That's it for the players I'm seeing ranked from very late third to very early fourth, that's not to say that there aren't other players and that people won't move up the board during the bowl games and "all star games", so here are what I'm seeing as the best of the rest on a few different sites, with this list coming from Scout albeit a bit outdated. Let it be said, my college football watching is very minimal as I'm not a huge fan of it, so I'd love to see people give there two cents about these guys or others.
8. Dan Doering, Iowa
9. Colin Baxter, Arizona (Jr.)
10. John Bender, Nevada (Jr.
11. Doug Palmer, East Carolina
12. Eric Olsen, Notre Dame
13. Jeff Byers, USC
14. Jacques McClendon, Tennessee
15. Shelley Smith, OG/OT Colorado State
16. Orlando Franklin, Miami (Jr.)
17. Marshall Newhouse, OG/OT TCU
18. Heath Batchelor, South Carolina (Jr.)
19. Lyle Hitt, LSU
20. Shaun Lauvao, Arizona State
21. Anthony Morgan, Oklahoma State (Jr.)
22. Tim McAvoy, Michigan
23. Reggie Stephens, Iowa Stat