3 Reasons For Concern Heading Into 2021 For The Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bears (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Chicago Bears, Teven Jenkins
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Concern No. 1: The Chicago Bears offensive tackle position

After trading up to pick Justin Fields 11th overall in the draft, Ryan Pace then traded up in the second round to select Oklahoma State offensive tackle Tevin Jenkins with the 39th overall pick. At 6’5″ and 330 pounds, Jenkins brings a level of toughness and physicality that this Bears offensive line has been missing.

Starting 18 of his 20 games for the OSU Cowboys at right tackle, Jenkins was projected by most NFL scouts to play on that side on Sundays. Allowing just two QB hits and zero sacks on over 1,200 career pass-blocking snaps, Jenkins is a massive offensive tackle with tremendous talent for Bears’ offensive line coach Juan Castillo to groom and develop.

Looking to continue preserving the future of this offensive line, Pace then selected Missouri offensive tackle, Larry Borom, with the 151st overall pick in the fifth round. A first-team All-SEC selection in 2020 at right tackle with an 87.0 Pro Football Focus (PFF) overall grade and an 84.5 PFF pass-blocking grade, Borom is another solid offensive line prospect for Chicago. With starts at Missouri playing every position on the offensive line but center, look for Borom to eventually become a starter at right tackle or one of the guard positions.

Just days after drafting two young offensive tackles Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy had high draft grades on, Pace cut longtime starting left tackle Charles Leno Jr. Starting 93 consecutive games for Chicago, Leno has been a staple on the left side for the Chicago Bears since 2015. Despite never being great, Leno was an extremely safe and viable option for Nagy’s offense heading into the 2021 season.

Banking on Teven Jenkins being able to play left tackle from day one as a rookie is a very risky move. Across from him at right tackle, I expect the starter to be Germain Ifedi. An average player at best, I see Ifedi as a liability and another major reason for concern.

Drafting Jenkins and Borom were great long-term moves by Ryan Pace, but cutting Leno was very risky in the short term. When Nagy’s offense plummeted in 2019, he and Ryan Pace vowed to fix the run game. Rather than investing heavily in the offensive line, Pace signed pass rusher Robert Quinn to a five-year $70 million dollar deal and tight end Jimmy Graham to a two-year $16 million dollar deal.

This spring, Pace could have saved roughly the same amount of money cutting Graham, as he saved cutting Leno. Apparently, Pace and Nagy view offensive line coach Juan Castillo as some sort of miracle worker.

Given Ryan Paces’ history with the offensive line, the post-draft release of Leno didn’t surprise me. Jimmy Graham was great in the red zone last season, and I understand why Nagy and Pace still want him around. That being said, choosing to cut Charles Leno instead of Jimmy Graham was a move that could backfire for this Pace/Nagy regime in 2021.