This is part six in our 13 part series, so if you need to catch up, check out the full story-stream right here.
Kyle Long - Signed through 2016 with a club option in 2017 - I think Long surpassed all the expectations the Bears had for him by making the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He started all 16 games, he improved as the year wore on, and he added a nastiness to the Chicago O-Line that hasn't been seen since Olin Kreutz policed the offense.
Over at Pro Football Focus, they had Long as their 44th rated guard at -3.3. You may be surprised at that grade considering he was on the Pro Bowl team, but you shouldn't be. Long had his share of rookie mistakes, his technique was sloppy at times, but he usually found a way to get his job done.
I did a couple in depth grading sessions for the Bears rookie offensive linemen (here's the week 14 article) and I came away impressed with both Long and Jordan Mills. The aggressiveness at which Long attacked his responsibilities leads me to believe he'll be a Pro Bowl mainstay from here on out. He'll tighten up his technique this off season and continue to improve as he gains experience.
Matt Slauson - Signed through 2017 - Slauson bet on himself with a one year deal last off season, and it paid off when he signed a four-year, $12.8 million contract in January. Slauson was the number 6 rated guard by PFF at +20.2, and he was the 2nd highest graded Bear for the 2013 season.
PFF agreed with my Sackwatch series and we both had Slauson responsible for just two sacks allowed last year, which tied him for 37th place among guards. The stabilization of the middle of the Bears o-line really went a long way in allowing the Marc Trestman passing offense to flourish, and Slauson had a big hand in that.
Slauson also brings an attitude with him to the field, and I look forward to he and Kyle Long mucking it up with defensivelinemen for the foreseeable future.
James Brown - Signed through 2014 - James Brown is listed on the Bears website at tackle, but since the last action he received saw him playing guard, I'll look at him in this post.
Brown had to feel he had a good shot at starting for the Bears after his brief audition last year. But then the Bears signed Slauson. And then the Bears drafted Long. Brown went from a potential starter to a guy fighting for a job. I liked what I saw from Brown as a rookie, and I think he has enough on tape to stick around in 2014.
2013 OUTLOOK - With these three guards all under contract in 2014, you know everyone will be back this off season. I'm sure the Bears are ecstatic with their starting guards, and Brown is a young player with potential. The Bears could also have free agent Eben Britton in the mix at guard, but I'll profile him with the tackles next time in our series.
Even with the Bears seemingly locked up at guard, you can bet there will be some competition brought into camp. A few undrafted rookies and cheap veterans will fight for a bottom of the depth chart job. As I discussed in my look at the center position, the Bears may draft a G/C combo type player at some point late.
What are your thoughts on the guard position in 2014 for the Bears?
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