With two second round picks in the NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears are almost certainly going to address the offensive line.
With the departure of Kyle Long and the uncertainty of the quality on the depth chart, the Chicago Bears need an upgrade along the offensive line. It seems to be a recurring narrative surrounding this team for the last decade, but injuries and poor play have derailed the front five from being a consistent bunch.
Rashaad Coward filled in for Long, but he left a lot to be desired. Pro Football Focus gave Coward a 51.7 grade last year, and he accounted for four penalties while allowing a sack as well. Perhaps of more concern, Charles Leno Jr.’s play has continued to fall short of expectations over the last three seasons. PFF gave him a 58.6 grade last year, with Leno being responsible for 13 penalties and five sacks.
Regardless of who is under center next season, it won’t make much of a difference if he cannot be kept upright. Not to mention how inept the running game looked at times last year as well. Both areas will see a dramatic leap forward with an upgrade to the offensive line.
With two picks in the second round, it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that the Chicago Bears will take either an interior offensive lineman or offensive tackle with one of the selections.
Clemson’s John Simpson would be the perfect interior offensive lineman to take in the second round. The former four-star prospect from North Charleston, South Carolina was ranked as the second-best guard in the state and the seventh-best in the country out of high school.
And at 6-foot-4, 321 pounds, Simpson has the ideal size and length – with 34 1/8″ arms – that you look for in a future Pro Bowl offensive lineman. He ran a 5.24 40-yard dash and put up 34 reps on the bench press at the NFL Combine.
Reviewing his film against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff, he lined up at both guard positions throughout the game. He allows very little give from the bull rush and was a big reason why Trevor Lawrence was sacked just 17 times in 14 games.
In the clip below, Simpson is lined up at left guard (#74), and you can see the hole he creates with his sheer power. If the tight end had not done such a poor job of blocking, this had the potential to be a big play.
As a freshman at Clemson, Simpson allowed just one sack in nine games. During his sophomore campaign, he accounted for 11 knockdowns in 12 starts. He’s a gritty guy with incredible strength, and that’s exactly what the Chicago Bears need along the offensive line.
He became a full-time starter in his junior year and started every game over the next two years. Simpson was named as a preseason All-American prior to the 2019 season and officially earned that status after the season.
As noted, I think what excites me most about him is how versatile he is. James Daniels played well last year, but it’s nice to know he could fill in if needed. However, his primary position with the Bears would be at right guard.
The one negative to Simpson’s play is a slow start out of his stance, which has led to holding and false start penalties. He should be able to clean both of those up as he continues to develop at his technique at the next level.