Chicago Bears Considering Moving Kyle Long to Tackle
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
According to ESPN’s Bears beat writer Michael C. Wright, the Bears are considering moving Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long to tackle. It’s a move that many fans, myself included, have been hoping for and it seems the Bears new management may actually be going through with it. Long is the most athletic offensive lineman on the Bears roster and has more upside at the position than either of the current starters at tackle.
Left tackle Jermon Bushrod had a rough season and was a hand picked choice of former offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. The new regime has yet to mention Bushrod’s role in the offense but it’s assumed he will stay at left tackle. On the right side Jordan Mills struggled for the 2nd year in a row. To his credit Mills finished the season well with a +4 grade from Pro Football Focus over the last 5 games of the season, but still finished with a negative 15.7 grade overall which was 66th out 84 NFL tackles. Bushrod finished with a -9 grade which was only slightly better at 58th overall. My point is that the Bears need help at both tackle positions and Long could be an upgrade on either side.
The Bears could go a few different routes, depending on if they add any starting caliber lineman in free agency or the draft. If they don’t add any new talent they could slide Long over to right tackle, insert promising 2nd year player Ryan Groy at right guard, and then leave the Slausen / Bushrod combo on the left side. They would have to use a 1st round pick to find a rookie capable of starting on the left side, so that is unlikely. But they could draft a right tackle on day 2 and move Long to the left side. Deposed right tackle Jordan Mills could also be moved to right guard where his run blocking skills could be an asset and he would be protected from dealing with speedy edge rushers which has been a problem during his short career.
The Bears have a lot of options on the O-line still, but moving their most skilled and athletic linemen, Kyle Long, to tackle would be the first step in improving a unit with talent but inconsistent production. Whether they plan on moving Long to the right or left side, either would be an improvement over their two starting tackles last season and open up a spot at guard for talented young lineman like Groy, last year’s 7th round pick Charles Leno Jr, or a 2015 draft pick.