Charles Leno Jr. - Signed through 2017 - The 25 year old Leno has one more year on his rookie contract, and as the final draft pick of the Phil Emery era, I’d say he’s done a decent job so far. Could the Chicago Bears do better at left tackle? Sure. Most teams would probably want an upgrade at that position, but in my opinion Leno hasn’t been a liability through his two years as a starter.
He’s started 29 straight at the position and he’s probably going to build on that number in 2017.
For more of my technical take on Leno, as well as all the offensive linemen, be sure to check out my final 2016 Sackwatch as well as the others that are all located in our Xs&Os section.
Bobby Massie - Signed through 2018 - Massie was an easy target for fan vitriol at the beginning of the 2016 season. He wasn’t signed because of his pass blocking skills, but right out of the gate he faced tough edge rushing match ups in the Texans and Eagles. He had a rough start, but he settled in as the season progressed. He’ll never be a plus pass blocker, but he missed one game last year, and if you were paying attention to his backup, you’d realize Massie was OK and a big upgrade over the 2nd stringer.
But is OK good enough? It’s all relative, but I think the Leno / Massie tandem will be fine if that’s how they start the season. On the offensive side of the ball, I’d list QB, TE, and WR as bigger needs than OT.
Mike Adams - Free agent - I’ve seen enough of Adams.
Matt McCants - Free agent - McCants is basically Adams, but without the injury history. He was the swing tackle for a while in Oakland, but he only had 3 starts in his career. Bottom line, he’s a guy, and the Bears should look for an upgrade.
Nick Becton - Free agent - The Bears cut Becton to make room for Mike Adams, and he found his way on to their injured reserve list all of last season. He’ll turn 27 in February, so I would imagine the Bears would go after a younger project.
William Poehls - Signed a reserve/futures contract - A lot of Bears’ fans get really excited when they sign a big guy, and at 6’8”, 334 pounds, Proehls is a big guy. He played some guard in college, so if he can learn both OT and OG, maybe he sticks.
I wouldn’t get my hopes up however, the Bears are his 3rd team since being an undrafted free agent in 2014, and he’s yet to climb his way off the practice squad.
2017 OUTLOOK - With only two tackles of note signed for next season, I’d say the Bears need to address the position. If they address the position with a talent upgrade at either right or left tackle, I’d be OK with it. At the very least some legitimate competition for the returning starters would be nice to see.
If the Bears are looking for a free agent upgrade, odds are they won’t find one. There aren’t any studs on the market, and the few competent ones will likely be back with their original teams. The Bears will probably need to find a young, fringe roster guy that they believe was undervalued or look to grab a guy rehabbing and hope they can get lucky.
Since they coached the Senior Bowl, they probably identified a few offensive linemen they believe in. USC’s Zach Banner (6’8”, 360) is a RT/OG prospect that may be there in the 4th round. Another 4th/5th round type is Julie’n Davenport (6’7”, 315) of Bucknell. Adam Bisnowaty (6’6”, 305) of Pittsburgh could be a guy that makes sense if he lasts til the 4th round.
In regards to the Bears sticking with their 2 tackles, I dug up some numbers for a comment yesterday, so I figured I’d share them here.
The 2016 Chicago Bears allowed the fewest sacks in a season since their Super Bowl team of 2006. In the running game, they averaged 5.7 yards around left end, good for 9th best in the NFL. When running off left tackle, they averaged 6 yards per carry, good for 4th in the league. Over on the right side, they averaged 3.98 on off tackle runs, which was 19th, and around right end they averaged 6.5, which was good for 5th best in the NFL.
Sacks allowed and average yards per run aren’t solely the product of the offensive line, but there wasn’t one time during the ‘16 season where I saw an o-line that was in desperate need of an upgrade. There were a few hiccups along the way, but no consistent level of awfulness that made me cringe, like back in the J’Marcus Webb, Frank Omiyale, Lance Louis and Gabe Carimi days.
What do you guys think about the Bears’ offensive tackle position?