In this ongoing series I'll take a look the Chicago Bears on a position by position basis, all to better get a handle on how their 2011 roster should shape up. I usually like to tackle the offense first, starting with the skills positions, but after the year the Bears had I wanted to get into the offensive line as soon as I could. On Tuesday I looked at quarterback, but next up is offensive tackle.
Frank Omiyale -signed through 2012 - Signed to play right tackle, then moved to guard, then back to right tackle, then over to left tackle. Omiyale has gained some experience the last couple of years and will be a valuable part of the line next season, but it might be in a reserve role. I expect him to have a shot to compete at one of the tackle positions.
Pro Football Focus had Omiyale as their 75th ranked tackle, just below Sam Baker and above Marc Columbo. His 12 sacks allowed was tied for worst among tackles. The Bears need an upgrade at LT in 2011. When I graded out all the Bears linemen after their week 15 game against the Vikings Omiyale had 5 negative plays out of 61. PFF had his overall grade that week at -3.1. Here's the explanation of their grading system, whereas mine is a simple plus/minus. In theory, the discrepancy in our grades can be explained this way. If PFF gives a zero (an average play where the player simply does their job), but on the same play I give a plus (he did his job). They are much more detailed in the way they grade.
J'Marcus Webb - signed through 2013 - Webb played real good for a 7th round rookie, unfortunately for a starting RT in the NFL his play wasn't up to par. It's very possible that Webb can make a jump in play in year 2, he has that kind of potential, and with rumors pointing to him having a shot at the left tackle job he'll need to improve.
PFF had Webb ranked even lower than Omiyale, at 77. He gave up 11 sacks and gave up the 6th most QB pressures from the tackle position. He's athletic and young enough to be a building block moving forward, but he's still raw.
Kevin Shaffer - signed through 2011 - Shaffer is a solid swing tackle that has a home in goal line and short yardage packages. He had 3 starts at RT earlier this season and only gave up 1 sack. PFF had him with a negative grade on the year, even the game he shut down Clay Matthews in week 3.
Herman Johnson - signed through 2011 - The "House" is a big body that needs some work, but the Bears saw enough to bring him in during the 2010 season. Maybe a future at right tackle, or if he can get his weight down maybe guard... I think he's a long shot the Bears gambled on and time will tell if he can stick in 2011.
Levi Horn - signed a reserve/futures contract - Horn will be a camp body and have a shot at making the practice squad next year.
2011 OUTLOOK - Tackle will be a high priority in the Draft, and may be the Bears 1st round selection. It's a good group of tackles coming out of college and at 30 Chicago should get a quality prospect. Former #1 draft pick Chris Williams may get a position switch back to tackle to try and live up to the left tackle promise he showed in 2009. I wouldn't expect the Bears to target any free agent tackles this off-season.