It all starts up front
I believe the consensus is that regardless of who is carrying the ball, it won’t make a difference if nobody is blocking for him. And it’s no secret that the Bears offensive line was a trainwreck last year. After a 2018 season that finally conveyed stability along the line, there was regression and injuries at nearly every position last year.
The primary objective in the draft will be to replace Kyle Long, who the Bears declined to offer a contract due to his struggles to remain healthy. Rashaad Coward did his best to fill in for Long, but struggled mightily, allowing a sack while committing four penalties. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bears found a replacement for Charles Leno Jr. as well, who has been declining since 2017.
Let’s look at a couple of options in the draft to replace both Long and Leno with the 50th overall pick should the Chicago Bears select a running back first.
Lloyd Cushenberry III – LSU (IOL)
Lloyd Cushenberry III is likely to be the best available interior offensive lineman in the second round. He played his entire career at LSU at the center position, but similar to James Daniels, he can transition to right guard. He’s a big dude at 6-foot-3, 312 pounds but moves well given his stature. And just how valuable was he to the LSU Tigers?
He was given the coveted number 18 jersey, which is reserved for players that most resembles what it means to be a Tiger. Cushenberry would be a day one starter in the NFL.
Austin Jackson – USC (OT)
As a four-star prospect from Phoenix, Arizona, Austin Jackson made his stamp on the USC football program. He saw time in 14 games as a true freshman, mostly in a backup capacity at left tackle before permanently claiming the job. Jackson started all 12 games in 2018 and all 13 games in 2019 and displayed good athleticism at the position.
He missed part of the 2019 practices due to donating bone marrow for his sister, who suffers from Diamond Blackfan Anemia. He’s exactly the kind of high-character guy the Bears need on their football team.