Chicago Bears 2011 #1 Draft Pick: Gabe Carimi

How the hell did this happen?  Most experts thought Gabe Carimi would be picked in mid twenty's at the very worst, then again there were a few surprise picks that helped Carimi fall to Chicago.  Did any mock draft actually have Carimi falling to 29?  Were there any Mock Drafts out there that had the foresight and the collective intelligence to have the big Wisconsin tackle lasting to 29.  I know of at least one.  This link doesn't really pop, it's more of a toot.  But the big question is where will he play?  I'm not sure, but I can almost guarantee that he'll start somewhere.

Carimi is 6'7" and 314 pounds.  He's a big dude.  A 1st team All American, 1st team All Big Ten, and the 2010 Outland Award winner as the best collegiate offensive lineman.  He had 49 starts at left tackle in a pro style offense at Wisconsin.  He doesn't have to adapt to the NFL game after being in a spread offense or some option scheme.  He'll be familiar with some of the reads and adjustments that an NFL offensive lineman will need to make.

No other tackle in the draft faced the kind of competition that Carimi did.  In practice every day he took on 1st round draft pick J.J. Watt and he played against 1st round draft picks Cameron Heyward of Ohio State, Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue, and Adrian Clayborn of Iowa.  NFL.com had this to say:

Carimi is simply a "bad man" who looks to punish defensive ends on every play. His non-stop motor, coupled with his ideal size, make him a terror in the running game and he has enough athleticism to hold his own in pass protection...  Carimi is a beast...

Carimi is a massive tackle that plays mean and looks to dominate opponents. Heady player that recognizes blitzes and adjusts quickly. Delivers a powerful punch and effectively locks out his arms to push rushers past the pocket in pass protection. Moves well for a big man and smothers defenders in the running game.

He has the same knocks against him that most tall tackles have, from the same scouting report:

Like all tall lineman, Carimi struggles at times with leverage and may have to make the move to right tackle in the NFL.  Does not sink his hips well and struggles to maintain leverage which makes him vulnerable to shorter defensive ends. Footwork is a bit sloppy at times in pass protection which allows defenders to get to the edge. Not fluid enough to consistently make blocks in space.

In my opinion he can play left tackle, and he should be given a shot on the left side.  Footwork and leverage are coachable issues.  He's not an elite athlete, but he's a good athlete with strength and explosion that understands how to use his hands.  Here's a link to his NFLDraftScout.com scouting report.  Those scouts feel he has good footwork and lateral movement.  Scouts differ on his eventual home in the NFL, but they all considered him a safe pick and a possible day 1 starter. 

Rumors were circulating that J'Marcus Webb will get a shot at left tackle, but that was before the Bears saw who they were gonna draft.  With Carimi in the fold, o-line coach Mike Tice and the Bears may rethink that strategy.  Gabe Carimi will start week one.  Tice will put his 5 best linemen on the field and Carimi will be one of them.

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