Bears starting offensive line has been named.

Bears Add Free Agent Chilo Rachal: How does the Offensive Line Shape Up?

August 20, 2011; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers guard Chilo Rachal (62) prepares to block during the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Raiders 17-3. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

You know how the Bears keep telling us they’re happy with their offensive line?  Well, they’re so happy they decided to sign free agent guard Chilo Rachal to an undisclosed deal.  The 6’5″ 325 pounder was a second round pick of the 49ers in 2008.  He was a regular starter in 2009 and 2010, but was unseated last season.

This really crowds the guard position for the Bears and there’s no way all of these guys make the team.  Here is a list of the players listed as guards or combo guard/tackles/centers on the Bears’ roster:

Ricky Henry
Lance Louis
Chilo Rachal
Reggie Stephens
Mansfield Wrotto
Roberto Garza
Chris Spencer
Edwin Williams
Chris Williams

Add to that the three tackles J’Marcus Webb, Gabe Carimi and Levi Horn.

That’s 12 linemen on their current roster and that’s not counting anyone they possibly draft.  Last season, they kept 8 offensive linemen.  Let’s break down and see how this sets up.

Locks:
Garza, Spencer, Carimi

Garza was the most consistent lineman last season, making a seamless transition from guard to center and making many forget Olin Kreutz.  Spencer was a big free agent addition last season and played really well.  He would figure to be the heir apparent to take over at center but held it down well at guard last season.  There’s no way the Bears give up on first rounder Carimi as long as he’s healthy.

Solid:
Webb, Louis

Mike Tice continues to stand  behind Webb.  Maybe he should try that with a half a dozen angry men chasing after him and see how comfortable he is?  I don’t get what coaches say they see in J’Webb, but we’ve got to give them the benefit of the doubt and a chance without Mad Martz’s 7-step drops.  Even if the Bears draft a tackle, Webb, with experience playing on both tackle positions the last 2 seasons, would stick as a swing tackle.

Lance Louis did a decent job at guard and then really stepped up his game when he moved to RT filling in for Carimi and succeeding Frank Omiyale.  His versatility keeps him around.

Strong but not Solid:
C. Williams, E. Williams

Ah, the Williams boys.   This is the last stand for former first rounder Chris Williams.  He flopped and LT, but was playing at a pretty high level as a guard until he got hurt.  Edwin Williams stepped in and did a decent job filling in.  I think these guys stick around as they’re battle tested and know the system but I wouldn’t be surprised if either were given the boot.

Others:
Chilo Rachal, Ricky Henry, Reggie Stephens, Mansfield Wrotto

I’m going to be honest, I don’t know much about of these guys.  They’re practice squad or fringe free agents and haven’t shown much if anything for the Bears.    These guys have an uphill battle to make the roster and are likely competing for one or two spots at most.  Don’t forget, if the Bears draft an offensive lineman, they’re likely to let him compete for a roster spot, so the roster could be even tighter.

What do you think?  Cam Mike Tice coach these guys up?  What’s the best Starting 5?  Can this group as presently constructed protect Cutler to give him the best chance to succeed?  I need to hear your comments.

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