Hroniss Grasu Should Be Chicago Bears’ Starting Center


Most of the attention on the offensive line through OTAs and the current Chicago Bears’ minicamp has been surrounded around injuries and two-time Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long.

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Both of the Bears’ starting offensive tackles from last season (Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills) have been struggling with undisclosed injuries. This has opened up an opportunity for the Bears to see what Long can do at the tackle position. Is this a full-time move? Only time will tell, but the upside of Long as a tackle is certainly intriguing.

The situation with Long and the injured tackles is certainly interesting, but the true competition on the offensive line is at the center position. Veteran Will Montgomery was brought in as a free agent this off season, and he may have the upper hand based on his experience with both head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase last season with the Denver Broncos.

Montgomery certainly has the experience factor by his side, but rookie Hroniss Grasu has the better skill-set, and much more upside.

Nov 1, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu (55) blocks for Oregon Ducks running back Royce Freeman (21) against the Stanford Cardinal at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Grasu was drafted by the Bears in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He was the starting center for the Oregon Ducks all four years of his college career, taking home First-Team All-Pac-12 honors the last three years, and First-Team All-American honors the last two years. In Oregon’s ridiculously fast paced offense, Grasu was relied upon to make all of the calls on the offensive line, and do them very quickly.

While a bit undersized (6-foot-3, 294 pounds), Grasu is an incredibly smart player with a great combination of speed, quickness and raw strength. He may not bring the veteran leadership of a guy like Montgomery, but Grasu is an extremely polished and experienced player for a rookie.

When watching Grasu at Oregon, the one thing that stuck out the most was his ability to reach the second level in the run game. In Oregon’s strict spread zone style rushing attack, Grasu was constantly asked to reach the second level and spring the runner for a big gain. He did so very effectively.

The Bears do not run an offense similar to Oregon, but Gase’s offense has plenty of zone principles in the running game. The outside zone play is one of Gase’s most popular calls, and that will be a play that will allow Grasu to reach the second level and shine.

Grasu is great in the run game, but he was never really challenged as a pass blocker in college. A huge majority of the pass plays at Oregon were quick, one-read throws that did not force the offensive line to hold their blocks very long. Grasu’s obvious skill-set gives him tremendous upside as a pass blocker, but he certainly has some work to do to prove himself.

When it comes to the Bears’ starting center this season, I think this one is some-what of a no-brainer. Grasu was obviously selected to be the Bears’ center going forward, and with the team not under a ton of pressure to win this season, we might as well see what he can do.

Give Grasu a chance to prove himself to start the year, and if he is bad, you have a solid option in Montgomery to fall back on while Grasu learns and grows as a player.

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