53-Man Roster Projection: Offensive Line
Who is going to be keeping Mitch Trubisky upright in 2018? Let’s take a look at the Chicago Bears potential offensive line this season.
The Chicago Bears offensive line is starting to take shape. With James Daniels having a great preseason, he seems destined to be starting by week one. At what position is still a question, but for this article, that question doesn’t matter.
First, let’s look at the mortal locks. The Bears will almost certainly be starting Charles Leno, Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Kyle Long and Bobby Massie week one against Green Bay. Whitehair might be at guard or he could be at center, same with Daniels, but both of them should be in the starting lineup.
The near locks are Eric Kush and Bradley Sowell. Those names may not excite you too much, but they are versatile veterans. Kush can back up all 3 interior offensive line positions and Sowell can be the team’s swing tackle. That gives the Bears a capable backup for all five positions.
The next question is just how many offensive lineman the Bears keep. Teams used to keep nine pretty regularly, but team’s utilize their practice squad better these days and many teams have chosen to slim the active offensive line groups down to eight. That’s where the Bears were for much of last year, so let’s assume that continues this season.
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That leaves the Bears one more roster spot on the offensive line and there are probably four guys fighting for it: Hroniss Grasu, Jordan Morgan, Earl Watford and Rashaad Coward.
Grasu was pegged as the center of the future, but after a significant injury and the inability to put on enough strength, it appears he’s on his way out. Grasu also hasn’t shows the versatility that most teams like with their backup interior linemen.
Watford might be the safe bet but he just doesn’t provide much in terms of upside. He’s been a below average player his whole career and doesn’t bring much to the table other than a space filler. Watford would be another interior sub behind Kush and could earn the last spot if no one else stands out.
Morgan missed his rookie season with an “injury (he was basically red-shirted)” and comes into this year in hopes of grabbing the last offensive line spot. Morgan has shown the ability to square up his guys, but hasn’t shown much in terms of strength and drive. Morgan is still raw and the Bears won’t want to give up on him but he probably isn’t headed for the active roster. Morgan will be a prime candidate for the practice squad.
That leaves Rashaad Coward. At the beginning of camp, there wouldn’t have been much thought of Coward making the active roster. He was changing positions from defensive line to offensive line and was going to have a learning curve. It would have been assumed that Coward would have been on the practice squad again this year. While that may be the case, the fact is that Coward has looked very good in practice and solid in preseason games as well. He’s definitely ahead of schedule.
Why that’s increasingly interesting is the fact that Bobby Massie is a free agent after this year and the Bears will be looking to replace him. They may look at Coward as an affordable replacement who could take the position and continue to improve and develop. If they see Coward as potentially their future right tackle, they certainly aren’t going to waive him and risk losing him outright to another team.
You don’t cut players that you plan to have as part of your future. Coward is the surprise here and earns a spot on the 53-man roster with Morgan and another young offensive lineman on the practice squad (teams almost always have 10 or 11 offensive lineman so they can have a full second unit on offense).
53-Man Roster Prediction: OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Charles Leno, Bobby Massie, Cody Whitehair, Kyle Long, James Daniels, Eric Kush, Bradley Sowell, Rashaad Coward