It’s no coincidence that the Super Bowl teams both had stout offensive lines loaded with high round draft picks. It’s a key ingredient into constructing a successful team built for long-term and sustained success.
What to Watch
Let’s start with what not to watch. Avert your eyes as you watch a shirtless then-Alabama prospect Andre Smith running the 40 at the end of this clip (click refresh on your browser if video doesn’t appear below):
You’re not going to learn a ton about the offensive linemen from their 40 times, but watch for the 10 and 20 yard splits, because you’d like to get a gauge on your lineman’s speed in short bursts. Cone drills should give a good idea about their foot speed while bench press is a key to understand strength. The best measures of line prospects are in the trenches and in one-on-one drills like at the Senior Bowl practices.
- Luke Loeckel, Texas A&M
- Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
- Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
- DJ Fluker, Alabama
- Menelik Watson
- Chance Warmack, Alabama
- Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
- Larry Warford, Kentucky
- Dallas Thomas, Tennessee
- Brian Winters, Kent State
- Barrett Jones, Alabama
- Travis Fredrick, Wisconsin
- Khaled Holmes, USC
- Brian Schwenke, Cal
- David Quessenberry
This is a deep class of talented linemen. There will be good value to selected up and down the draft board. Last season, the Matt Kahlil headed up the class, going fourth to the Minnesota Vikings. Riley Reiff went late in the round along with guard David DeCastro. Kahlil was excellent in his first season with the Vikings and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in his first season while Adrian Peterson made a run for the record books.
It’s no mystery that this position will be a big point of emphasis for the Bears in the offseason, either through free agency or the draft. I hope and expect they do both. The Bears have enough needs along the line to take the best player available. By the time they select, Joeckel and Fisher will be gone. If Cooper or Warmack are there it wouldn’t be a mistake for the Bears to grab either or them. If they have their hearts set on a tackle, they might be able to nab Lane Johnson, who has great feet as he converted from tight end to OT.
There will be value in later rounds, so if the top tackles are off the board, the Bears could address another position in the first round and get a quality linemen in round 2 or 4, but we’ve seen some of those failed experiments before.
What do you think? Which offensive lineman would you like to see the Bears take? Let’s see your comments.