Let’s get this disclaimer out of the way: Luke Getsy hasn’t called plays at the NFL level, so we don’t know with complete certainty what his scheme will be.
Yes, I did start my wide receiver scheme breakdown with that exact sentence; why do you ask?
While the passing attack appears to be pretty cut and dry in terms of projection in the Bears’ offense, the blocking scheme isn’t so transparent. Kyle Shanahan — whom Getsy’s head coach with the Packers, Matt LaFleur, worked under — generally runs a wide-zone scheme, prioritizing mobility and the ability to down block in his scheme. That said, Getsy came up in the coaching ranks underneath Joe Moorhead, who utilizes more of a gap scheme at the collegiate level.
In my discussions with WCG film guru Robert Schmitz, he told me that he expects to see wide zone as the base philosophy, but there will likely be more variety than what is seen in Shanahan’s offense, particularly blending power/gap concepts.
That said, the Bears will likely prioritize offensive linemen who can block on the move with plus athleticism, but linemen who are more scheme versatile and play with that high motor that the likes of Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus have preached.
It’s an imperfect practice, and one I’m admittedly not as confident in as projecting wide receivers, but here are 8 offensive linemen who could fit with the Bears’ new offensive scheme.
Tyler Smith, OG, Tulsa
Few offensive linemen have boosted their draft stock over the past 6 months like Tyler Smith, and his strong 2021 campaign and an impressive Combine project him as a Round 2 pick at the end of this month.
I’ve covered Smith at various points of the offseason, but here’s my write-up on him from my “My Guys” offense piece from late February:
Tyler Smith projects best as an offensive guard on my board, and I think he has the potential to be a quality starter in the league. He’s a no-nonsense, nasty blocker with a mean streak that allows him to pummel defenders into the dirt. His strength at the point of attack pops off the screen, and he does a good job of keeping his pads low and his weight underneath him to maximize the power in his frame. His lateral mobility is a bit pedestrian in the grand scheme of things, but if you put Smith in a vacuum, he’s an enticing guard at the next level with a tone-setter mentality.
There are rumblings that Smith could go as high as the first round, but if he’s available with either of Chicago’s second-round picks, he should definitely be in consideration.
Cole Strange, OG, Chattanooga
From his top-tier athleticism as an offensive lineman to his mean streak, Cole Strange projects to be as good of a fit as anyone in a diverse blocking scheme.
I watched Strange leading up to the Senior Bowl and followed up afterwards, and the more I’ve broken down his tape, the more I’ve found things to like in his game. I mocked him to the Bears in Round 3 of a recent mock draft and had this to say:
Strange was on another level from his competition from an athletic perspective. His acceleration as a down blocker and mobility in pass protection popped out on tape whenever I would watch him. In addition to being the most athletic guard in the 2022 draft from a testing perspective, Strange is also one of this class’ nastiness blockers. He plays with a mean streak that allows him to pummel just about anyone in front of him.
Pad level can be a bit of an issue for Strange sometimes, and if he wants to maximize his physical traits at the next level, he’ll need to become a bit more consistent in getting his weight underneath him at the point of attack. That’s a very teachable issue, though, and he fits what the Bears want out of an offensive lineman to a T.
Dylan Parham, OG, Memphis
It’s not about the size, it’s about how you use it. The offensive lineman, that is.
Dylan Parham may be a bit smaller for an NFL offensive line prospect at shy of 6-foot-3, but he’s one of the most athletic blockers in the 2022 draft. He entered Memphis’ program as a tight end and has progressively added weight over the course of his collegiate level, all while still maintaining a lot of that tight end athleticism. He ran a sub-5.0 40-yard dash with a 99th-percentile 1.66 10-yard split at the Combine, and both his initial burst and overall speed is apparent as a down blocker. Parham changes direction well and has very good body control, coiling his hips and rolling them through contact to seal off lanes in the run game. He’s also an intelligent player with good situational awareness who projects perfectly in a wide-zone scheme.
Parham played at around 285 pounds this past year, so he’ll have to show that he can play well at a higher weight in the NFL. He’ll never be the most powerful lineman out there, but he’s a sound player with an elite athletic ceiling who should be in the mix for the Bears around the third round.
Ed Ingram, OG, LSU
I’ll admit that I was late to truly be high on Ed Ingram. However, it’s better late than never, right?
If there’s one thing that stood out the most to me about Ingram on tape, it was his overall play strength. He plays with his pads low and generates a powerful jab at the point of contact, also showcasing the grip strength needed to overwhelm defenders near the line of scrimmage. His lower-body drive helps him create push when locked up with opponents, too. However, the more I watched some of his recent tape and saw him at the Combine, I got on board more with his athleticism. I knew going into 2021 that he was a coordinated athlete who maintained good body control blocking on the move, but his burst and lateral mobility appeared better than I initially thought. That reflected in his 5.02 40-yard dash and 99th-percentile 1.68 10-yard split.
Ingram’s hips are still a bit tight, which makes him susceptible to allowing pressure as a pass blocker against flexible interior defenders or stunting edge rushers. His upside appears to just be that of a solid starter because of said flexibility issues and being a bit smaller for an NFL lineman, but if the Bears can get a solid starting guard in Round 3, that would be a sound investment.
Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
Abraham Lucas has been on my radar as a draft prospect for years at this point, and I believe it’s that reliable-but-not-sexy style of play that has people sleeping on him.
A four-year starter at the collegiate level, Lucas has proven himself to be a very good anchor for Washington State’s offensive line in two different offensive schemes. He is a good athlete who redirects well in pass protection, showcasing measured footwork and the ability to vary his set points effectively. He possesses good raw power at the point of attack, showcasing the anchor strength needed to neutralize speed-to-power. Lucas killed it at the Combine, placing with at least 97th-percentile numbers in all of the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drill for his position.
Though the physical upside is apparent with Lucas, he doesn’t always play with very good pad level, making it tougher for him to maximize his raw strength and to maintain balance in space. If he can work on getting a bit lower and improving his coordination as a backside blocker, he could be a solid starter in the NFL, making him a player the Bears could look into as early as Round 3.
Matt Waletzko, OT, North Dakota
Waletzko is another player I showcased in my mock mentioned in Strange’s entry. As a freakish athlete with a 9.93 RAS score who held his own against top competition at the Senior Bowl, it would make a lot of sense to take a Day 3 flier on someone like him.
Here’s what I had to say about his game:
Matt Waletzko is a 6-foot-8, 312-pound mammoth with a near 7-foot-2 wingspan and 36 1/8-inch arms. His sheer size alone allowed him to dominate at the FCS level, but he’s more than just some big lineman. His movement skills are refined for an offensive tackle, as he redirects well and has good acceleration climbing to the second level. When he gets his hands placed properly, his raw strength and long arms make it difficult for anyone to get inside his frame.
Being as tall as he is, pad level and weight distribution can be an issue for Waletzko. He’s not stiff — that would be unfair to say about anyone with that good of an athletic profile — but he can stand to generate a little bit more bend in his knees, though he does partake in yoga to improve flexibility. He’s absolutely worth a shot in Rounds 5 or 6 should he be available, and the Bears could end up getting solid depth with starter upside on Day 3.
Kellen Diesch, OT, Arizona State
Fellow WCGer EJ Snyder gave Kellen Diesch his stamp of approval, and the Sun Devils standout certainly has mine, as well.
Diesch is a tall offensive tackle at 6-foot-7 whose frame still has pretty of potential to add mass. After transferring to Arizona State from Texas A&M, he broke out as a starter in 2020, trailing only 2021 first-round pick Alijah Vera-Tucker as the highest-graded offensive tackle in the Pac-12 by PFF. Diesch showcases very good mobility, as he changes direction well in pass protection and maintaining squared hips at the point of attack, even when executing down blocking assignments. His athleticism showed up at the Combine, as he was one of the top performers to head down to Indianapolis over the course of the week. Here’s a brief anecdote from when I tabbed Diesch as one of the “winners” from the offensive line portion of workouts:
Among the top offensive line testers at the Combine, Diesch was second in the 20-yard shuttle, second in 40-yard dash and third in the vertical jump for linemen. Athleticism was a big calling card of his game, and he lived up to the hype.
Is Diesch the most powerful blocker out there? Not necessarily, as he’s a bit thin and doesn’t have great pad level. That said, he has a frame that can afford to pack on some more weight at the next level, and his athletic upside could make him enticing to a team like the Bears around Round 5.
Zachary Thomas, OT/OG, San Diego State
His younger brother Cameron has been in the national draft spotlight for quite some time, but in recent months, Zachary Thomas has been able to make a name for himself, as well.
Thomas is a player who could project as either a tackle or a guard at the next level. He is an athletic zone blocker with very good redirect ability and the acceleration needed to climb to the second level and cover considerable space on the move. He finished with a 4.96 40-yard dash with an offensive line 99th-percentile 1.65 10-yard split, and that speed and initial burst shows on tape. Thomas has a dense frame and packs a nice punch at the point of attack, and he plays with a mean streak that guides him to eliminate defenders completely out of the play.
His hand placement and pad level can be a bit inconsistent — which will need sharpening in the pros — and he also has an ACL tear to his name from back in 2018. Thomas hasn’t been touted as one of the top offensive linemen in the class, but he has the tools needed to outplay his projected draft positioning, and the Bears would be smart to target him in Round 6.
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