Last week I graded the play form the Chicago Bears left tackles (Elijah Wilkinson and Badara Traore) from their game against the Miami Dolphins, and Wilkinson looked much better than I was expecting. The Bears could have been impressed with him as well, but considering they added Jason Peters that evening, they must not have been impressed enough. The news that rookie left tackle Teven Jenkins was to get surgery a couple days later likely played a part in that signing, but regardless Chicago wanted to upgrade the position.
Wilkinson got the start at left tackle against the Buffalo Bills, but once Peters is up to speed he’s probably going to take over, possibly as soon as the preseason finale against the Tennessee Titans. This is why I didn’t bother to grade Wilkinson’s play this week.
However, there’s another tackle on the roster that was working out on the left side, and the Bears gave him the entire second half against the Bills. A concussion prevented rookie Larry Borom from playing in their preseason opener, but with him finally seeing some action I wanted a closer look at the Missouri product.
My grading system remains as basic as they get, you get a plus if you do your job and a minus if you don’t. I graded 37 reps for Borom and I came up with a +30/-7 (81.1%).
When watching the game I noticed this play, so I wanted to spotlight it here.
It’s just a zone play to the right, which means the line all step and block in that direction, and while Borom didn’t drive his man downfield off the line of scrimmage, he did wash him down the line which created a cutback lane for running back Khalil Herbert.
Some of the positives I noted from Borom’s game was strong hands, quick feet, and he had the strength to move his man off the line.
Considering left tackle is new for him there were some reps where he looked hesitant. He was late in recognizing a stunt, the angle on his kick step wasn’t always good enough to protect the edge, and he let his man into his chest a few times.
Like all young tackles he needs to work on his hand placement and footwork, and with him changing sides he’ll need to burn the technique into his muscle memory.
I had this GIF loaded up to share on Twitter, so I figured I’d get it in here as well.
This is few series after Justin Fields was blasted by that blitz off the right side — you know the play — but this time Fields recognized the free blitzer and calmly hit the open receiver for a first down. At left tackle Borom absorbed the rush and redirected the defender outside.
This next play is on one of the seven minuses I gave him on the day.
His initial punch was ineffective, he seemed to guess that the defender was going to bull rush, and when the Bills player went outside Borom couldn’t recover. It wasn’t a good rep on the right side from Lachavious Simmons either.
Overall there’s a lot to like about Borom’s game, but the best thing for the Bears in 2021 at tackle is for Peters to be able to man the left side and for Germain Ifedi to return from his hip flexor injury to start at right tackle.
Wilkinson is probably going to be the swing guy, although I’d rather not see him play much tackle this year, with Borom being eased into that role. Simmons has some traits, but at this point in his development I can’t see the Bears wanting him to do anything other than play right tackle.
I could definitely see the future tackles being Jenkins and Borom, so once Jenkins returns we’ll see if they keep him on the left side. Jenkins’ experience from college was mostly on the right, but his entire offseason has been prepping to play on the left. Borom’s college time was all also mostly on the right side, but his work at left tackle is relatively new for him.