Last year, the Chicago Bears’ offensive line played some pretty good football. I’m not sure if they were a top five unit, as claimed by Pro Football Focus, but they were definitely top ten in my opinion. They only had two of their starters play all 16 games, with the other three missing a combined 13 games. A silver lining among the injuries, is that the Bears learned that they had a solid backup in Eric Kush, who played in eight games, while starting four. He’s the kind of versatile interior player (RG/C/LG) that will really help solidify the depth.
The Bears did make some changes to the other reserve positions, so there will be some roster battles to keep an eye on this off-season.
Their starting five that began last year will all be back, albeit two could be in different spots, but keeping these five together will help their familiarity and should lead to an improvement over 2016.
Starting from right to left we have, Bobby Massie (RT), Josh Sitton (RG), Cody Whitehair (C), Kyle Long (LG), and Charles Leno Jr. (LT). The two changes are Long and Sitton flipping sides, something that has been talked about and practiced, but not announced as permanent yet.
Massie’s spot is the shakiest among the starting five, but there really isn’t a better option on the current roster. Leno is in line for a god payday if he can take a step in play.
The aforementioned Kush is probably a lock as well.
A good bet to make it
I can’t see the Bears cutting 5th round pick Jordan Morgan, even though he’s a raw prospect. I’d imagine he’d be inactive every week, while the coaches get his technique in order. They did this a couple year sago with Tayo Fabuluje and Hroniss Grasu. Not only is Morgan going from tackle to guard, but he’s going from Kutztown University to the NFL. There will be some issues he needs to hammer out.
If preseason NFL seems like too big a stage for him, they could release him, then hope to bring him back to the practice squad. But since this regime kept the raw Fabuluje a couple years ago, I think Morgan is a good bet to make it.
On the bubble
The Bears opened up the 2016 season with eight offensive lineman, and nine in 2015. They generally only carry seven into each game, with the others inactive. If I assume the seven listed above are all making the team, then the eighth will need to be the swing tackle.
I’m not a big fan of the swing tackles on the current roster, so I think that 2017 guy for the Bears is currently playing for one of the other 31 teams. The two on the Bears that are competing for now are Tom Compton and Bradley Sowell. Once teams cut down to 53, I’d imagine the Bears will be scouring over the waiver wire for a veteran capable of backing up both sides.
After the swing tackle is set, the other reserve offensive linemen will really need to impress to earn a ninth OL spot on the 53 man roster.
Taylor Boggs is a C/G that will try and stick around for another stint with the Bears. Center Hroniss Grasu, who has worked a little at guard (I told ya so), probably has the edge between these two, but he’s no lock, even though he’s a draft pick of this regime.
The 6’8” William Poehls has tackle size, but he’s primarily a guard. If he makes the team, I’d imagine the Bears would have him work at right tackle just in case. Cyril Richardson is another guard that may do well if he proves an ability to play right tackle.
Undrafted free agent Dieugot Joseph (FIU) is a practice squad candidate as a tackle. He has good size and athleticism, but his technique needs some work.
James Madison’s Mitchell Kirsch, another UDFA who played tackle, is another practice squad possibility.
How many offensive linemen will open up on the Chicago Bears’ 53 man roster?
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