(Editor Note: Promoted to the Front Page from our Fanpost section, Congrats!)
So, a month or a month and a half ago, I was talking about DE's in the draft, people I had my eye on, etc. and I got an email from one of our posters asking me to get my crap together and put out another one. In this edition, I take a look at some of the more reasonable linemen in the draft, and how they fare when put under a Bears-o-scope. From Martin to Blake, Brown and Potter, I put together a list of some guys I'd like to see in a Bears uniform come May. Many of these guys won't crack the starting line up on Day 1, but as we've talked about ad nauseum for almost five months (or five years, if you want to get down to it), you have to start building good lines by adding quality depth.
Few Administrative Notes: When I mention Projected, I mean, I'd feel comfortable if the Bears drafted this player, in this round. It's currently 1am, I'm tired, and I wish I could finish, but I'm not there yet, but would like to disseminate some of the content I had, before my brain explodes. I'll probably be online another hour or two to discuss, but I might not be 100% cognizant. Some of the wording might be edited tomorrow, and if it is, blame it on my lack of sleep and not enough coffee! Also: Again, this is through the eyes of the Bears, not specifically objective in a neutral standpoint, but one that recognizes the context the Bears are in in relation to the players I look at. I also am in the mind that outside of Martin and maybe Konz as a Guard, I don't think any of these players may crack the starting lineup in their first year. I just don't see that happening with the talent level at the point of which the Bears picks occur.
Also: Spoiler Alert, My post for the NY Giants pick is below, at the time of pressing publish, it's probably still in the queue. But, seeing as I'm pick 32, we can go with it as you please.
Jonathan Martin OT, Stanford
H: 6-6, W: 304, Projected: Round 1, Position: LT
As MrPants alluded to in another post, Martin is the technician, the nimble, hard working tackle that doesn't have the big body to overpower in the run, and the pure lateral movement to beat speed rushers, but, the mentality to play Tackle. I think he could absolutely play Left Tackle in our offense, but, I don't think it's a day 1 start. He, as of today, is probably going to get overpowered by the DL's in the NFCN. Although he plays with a solid base and great pad level, good hands, and a good mentality, you're going to be only so good unless you can physically match up against the defenses. He's a finesse and athletic. But finesse is good. Don't let people tell you otherwise. He'd probably be my top choice of realistic players to be in a Bears uniform this draft.
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
H: 6-7, W: 323, Projected: Round 1-3, Position: RT/LT
I talked about him in my pick on the Bears Mock Draft (as pick #32 for the Giants), and he's essentially J'Marcus Webb in 2012. I watched him yesterday in the Illinois Game (and specifically how he matched up to Mercilus Whitney), and he looks just physically imposing and plays tough in the run game and it shows. He's that physical, he's fantastically athletic for his size. But in the passing game, when the rush goes outside, he looks confused, he blanks on inside moves, and would require some time to figure it out. I don't know if he's mentally there yet, but, he's physically there. He's got solid footwork, but I think that, watching him play against rushers out wide 9 or out past the 5 technique, he has the lateral quickness to get there, but it scares me watching him engage the rusher. Sometimes he gets there. Sometimes is bad. Like, I have to say one thing about J'Marcus, he's not as inconsistent. I'm not entirely sold on Adams figuring it out, but, his upside is too high in the second not to take. Part of his inconsistency problems could be attributed to two people: Terrelle Pryor and Braxton Miller. If you've watched Ohio State games, watching those QB's not being able to sit still in the pocket, have twitchy legs, and a propensity to run... There's at least a little rationale to his missing development. I like him as a prospect, but to be fair, we already have Mike Adams on the roster.
Bobby Massie, OT, Ole Miss
H: 6'6, W: 316, Projected: Round 2, Position: Right Tackle
This class is lacking in a lot of solid pass blocking talent. I think that's really though a trend on how college programs are getting, the ones that emphasize a pro style offense, and produce top linemen, generally give the most solid pass blocking talent. Massie is the exception, he's still a strong, good mentality RT that plays hard to his defender and has a stellar motor. The issue is, unlike Mike Adams, he's consistent, but not as strong. They both probably are Top of the 2nd talent, that might swap, or get around each other depending on team needs. Massie is fast, he's strong, but he's not the fastest, he's not the strongest, and will probably be tough for him to crack the starting lineup day 1 because of the level of competition gap from college to the pros will probably be too much for him to take. He looked good enough to do his job at Ole Miss. He didn't look good enough to make it look effortless like Adams, Martin, or Khalil, but he played in the SEC (whatever). In terms of averageness, he's probably Sam Baker at the next level in terms of career trajectory, but projects to the right side instead, balanced, active, consistent, but not flashy. He might play better at guard, but I don't think his strength or leverage might be up to snuff for that either.
Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
H: 6'6, W: 320, Projected: Round 3, Position: LT/RT
One of the better pass-protecting tackles in the draft, but has significant upside in the run, with a good initial up-burst to attack into linemen. He's probably the best developmental LT prospect, who has a lot of game to him left. Watching him work against Andre Branch showed me that he was good enough technically to win a lot of battles, but wasn't physical enough in the pass game. I think when we talk about adding talent in the tackle position, this is the prototypical pick. Athletic, powerful, gets good lateral movement as a tackle, and can reach speed rushers who go outside, but has room to bulk up and add some strength. I don't think he's quite ready to take on Jared Allen every day, but given time, I think he's an ideal mid round pick if the Bears are serious about adding depth on the line that could Start as a swing tackle on either side and work into the lineup in a couple of years after some strength conditioning and technique refinement. It's a slow process, this guy is right on the money though.
James Brown, OT, Troy
H: 6-3, W: 306, Projected: Round 4, Position: LT
This might be a guy that Mike Tice sees and goes. Whoa. Everything I've read about his intangibles makes me think he's a guy the Bears would find intriguing. His game is good, but he's short (6'3). Downside? Sure, but he plays with solid leverage at his height, has nice long arms to make up for his height, and big mitts to toss on the linemen. He's inconsistent (obviously it's very common, but, something that prevents him from being a project), but the one thing I like is how aggressive he is at hitting and fighting in his blocks. He moves so well against his competition. In the 2 games I watched of his, I just watched him, textbook style, take the rusher, engage, push, move laterally, and give the QB a nice pocket to play with and kept the DE on a bubble. If the Bears acquire this guy, It's only because I think there's a lot of potential to be tapped in a guy who plays hard, works hard, has improved a lot from reports, played a lot of games in college, and looks to have coachable issues (mostly footwork I think, he doesn't get over his feet enough in his bend and can loses some power that he could be using to maul). I wasn't thoroughly impressed with him in the Senior Bowl at guard, I think his talent really is playing LT. Dude also was penalized TWICE in 2011. Serious business.
Nate Potter, OT, Boise State
H: 6'6, W: 295, Projected: Round 2-4, Position: LT
Better at pass protection than Sanders. I think I just need to lead off with that. This guy is cold. His work with Kellen Moore was spectacular over the past 3 years to turn Boise State into... Boise State. I watched his best game I think last year vs Colorado State, and in it. To be fair, he's no Ryan Clady, Clady was the more physical specimen, he was bigger, and meaner, but Potter is a solid technician who seems to play to his consistency and bounces back well from bad play. I've watched him for almost 2 years on the Blue Turf, and I've always enjoyed watching him. He gets good legs, has good athleticism, EXCELLENT footwork (better than Khalil's, but only because he has to to compensate for his lack of strength) and he's not the strongest guy, but works well with his leverage. If the Bears are looking for the best available pass protector in the draft, This guy in the 2nd seems like a no-brainer, assuming he can strengthen up to about 300-305 lbs. Finding 15 pounds on him might be really tough. I can't tell, and that's something that I think teams will look for when working him out.
Kelechi Osemele, OG, Iowa State
H: 6'6, W: 347, Projected: 2-3rd. Position: Right Guard
Big dude, but never played as powerfully as a guy who's 347lbs. I thought he was closer to 315 by the way he played. But, he's got a good athletic set to him, and plays with good hips. I think a lot of his issues he has playing tackle are solved when he goes inside to guard, but the one technical error that bugs me in his play is how he bends his waist and plays without his feet under him. He's got the power, but his lack of effective leverage keeps him from being as good as he can be. I think he's a good G/T prospect who could factor into long term plans as a beefy, power blocking guard, who can get low and move a pile. I always find it way harder to evaluate people who should be moving positions. As a Left Tackle? He was mediocre, but, technique is technique, whether you're at LT, RT, either guard position. You're just looking to make contact, stay with your block, get good leverage, and finish your block, those are universal truths to playing on the line, and the footwork, the lateral movement, things that Osemele struggles with I think improve when he moves inside.
Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
H: 6'5, W: 314, Projected: 1-2 Position: Left Guard/C
The rock to Wisconsin's run game. Konz is athletic to a fault, pulls like a champ. He pulls like Matt Birk, which is a major asset in the Bears future running game. But he's really, really tall for a center. 6'5 is big. 6'5 is huge. Like, when I found out he's that tall, I had to re-watch to see how he snapped, and how low he kept himself, and how he pushed out of his block. He's not terrible, he smoothly passes off the ball (I think I counted only 2 fumbles attributed to him in his logs) but, he's 6'5. I don't know how much he's going to get better in that regards, even if he's flexible. There were a lot of times that the DL got under Konz, but Konz was able to use his hands to redirect and regain more control of the block. But once he gets up and attached, he's solid in leverage, has great hands. I think that's the primary physical asset the guy has, he's got great hands, a solid punch, and good leverage. Great hands. Great great hands and the ability to push his blocks into the second level. I think with more strength, he'll probably go from a starting, to a top notch interior linemen in a power running game. I think it's funny though, he was a tackle who moved inside to center because of his mental makeup and film-room-junkie mentality... oh, and the fact he's got a nasty injury history. He'd be a good pick up for the Bears as a guard, but I can't see them going that way for #19.
Philip Blake, C, Baylor
H: 6-3, W: 311, Projected: 3-4th, Position: C/G
I can't say anything more than I like this guy. He's got the makeup to be a great player... But, he suffers from BYU syndrome... which is: Coming out of school, they're a bit older. 27 isn't that bad, but, he's technically sound, he's powerful, good drive blocker that works well in small space because of his powerful legs but isn't the most nimble on the run. His hands aren't really superb, but playing with a solid base allows him to get a bit sloppy in his technique and he fails to finish blocks as a result. He's legitimately close to being a day 1 starter as any other linemen in the draft. If you're looking at centers, he's pretty freakin polished, experience, good as anyone pitching the ball out to a shotgunned qb, has a bit of room to strengthen up, and enjoys a prototypical size for centers to get a good base and match up against power DTs like BJ Raji. I think he's a steal in the later rounds that could easily end up playing C/G instead of just Center.
Guys I still Might Edit to talk about: Michael Brewster, C, Ohio State, Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern State
Here's a video of things completely unrelated, but kept me sane while reading my chicken-scratch notebook and turning it into words. Fugazi's Blueprint