It’s the middle of May, and that means looking at the Chicago Bears current biggest needs as they prepare for training camp and OTAs. One of the largest holes on the roster is the right guard position.
In his first offseason as a general manager, Ryan Poles decided to not resign James Daniels. A 2018 second-round pick, Daniels saw time at center and left guard before switching over to the right side of the line. He signed a three-year, $26.5 million deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in March.
Ryan Bates was slotted to be a potential replacement out of Buffalo, but the Bills brought him back by matching the Chicago Bears offer sheet. It was a tough loss for Poles, as all signs pointed to Bates coming to Chicago.
The right guard spot has been a revolving door in Chicago, with a list of names holding down the spot — including Kyle Long, Rashaad Coward, and Alex Bars. If the Bears want consistency with their offensive line, they need to shore up this position.
A look at the veteran in-house options for the Chicago Bears
We’ll first look at the projected starting line according to ESPN. Currently, 2022 free agent signing Dakota Dozier is slotted as the “starter”. With so much potential overhauling of the roster, this likely won’t last.
Dozier was a 2014 fourth-round pick of the New York Jets. He spent four years there before playing two seasons for the Minnesota Vikings. He allowed 46 pressures and six sacks back in 2020 before being pushed back in the depth chart. It’s safe to say that there’s better choices.
With Lucas Patrick set to start at center and the Bears drafting Illinois center Doug Kramer, the Bears could move Sam Mustipher to guard. A lackluster 2021 season gives Mustipher a similar vibe of confidence as Dozier: not good.
An option the Bears could explore is moving Larry Borom to guard. Borom played both left and right tackle in his rookie season. Borom could benefit from moving to the inside should the Chicago Bears feel confident in another tackle candidate, as the team prepares to change to more of a zone scheme style offense.
Could a rookie push for the open spot at right guard for the Chicago Bears?
In case you missed it, Poles drafted four offensive lineman during Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft. Surely one of these guys will be able to play, right?
The two names that come to mind when it comes to right guard are Zach Thomas and Ja’Tyre Carter. Thomas was a sixth-round pick this year out of San Diego State. Originally a tackle, the Bears have begun working with him on moving to the interior. The early message from Thomas, however, is not to focus on winning a spot, but transitioning properly to the NFL.
“I think right now I’m just trying to learn as much as I can about the game,” Thomas said in a recent NBC Sports Chicago article. “Between college and the NFL it’s been a bit of a leap. We’ll see once the vets get here what happens. But right now I’m just trying to learn as much as I can, and really get going.”
As mentioned above, the other name to watch here is Ja’Tyre Carter. The Southern University prospect showed versatility at the Senior Bowl this year. His physical attributes show potential, but until training camp begins it will be difficult to pencil him as the starting right guard yet.
The Bears need to continue to work on the offensive line
Ultimately, the Bears offensive line has a lot of potential and what-ifs, with an overall lack of consistency. The team would be wise to continue testing the free agent market, especially once rosters are cut down in August.