Position Battles (Starters):
Kyle Long is back to his natural position at right guard where he is a mauling run-blocker with enough quickness to hold his own on against speed rushers. He flashed some ability at right tackle, but the transition was difficult and his lack of foot speed was exposed at times against speed rushers outside. Long has more than enough quickness to deal with the less explosive interior pass rushers and the strength to drive them wherever needed. The combination of Long and tackle Bobby Massie on the right side should give the Bears a powerful run-blocking combo and improve the Bears short-yardage woes.
Rookie Cody Whitehair is the front runner for the left-guard spot vacated by Matt Slauson. I had Whitehair graded as late first round pick and the best guard in the draft. NFL.com agreed with Whitehair graded as the 25th overall player in the 2016 draft (tied with Bears 5th round pick Jordan Howard!). A four-year starter who started at four different positions on the o-line in
A four-year starter at Kansas St who started at four different positions on the o-line in college, was one of the best left tackles in college football in 2015. He has the potential to be a dominant blocker inside as a rookie. Whitehair is technically sound, with quick feet, an innate understanding of angles and leverage, and the speed to get to the second level. He should be an excellent fit in the Bears zone-blocking scheme and will make a strong push for the starting role as a rookie.
As impressive as Whitehair looks on tape, he’s still a rookie and may have some growing pains making the transition to the NFL. If Whitehair isn’t ready to start as a rookie the best bet to take his job is recent signing Amini Silatulo. Journeyman guard Ted Larsen is an option as well, but after watching him for a season in Arizona, he’s better suited for the bench. Silatulo on the other hand, is a beast as a run blocker with a mean streak and long enough arms to hold his own as a pass blocker. The question with Silatulpo is his health. If he can recover from an ACL tear in 2015, he could make a serious push for Whitehair’s job.
Next: Positon Battles (Back-ups)