The Bears downplayed Kyle Long playing tackle during their offseason program, but their intent is clear and they should make the move permanent.
The difficult part of moving Long to tackle is already done. He was one of the best guards in the league and the previous regime convinced him that’s where he would be best in the NFL. He stated he did not want to change positions yet there he was in a changed position. That tells you all you need to know about John Fox’s ability to communicate with players and Long’s willingness to do what is best for the team.
The primary concern with Long playing tackle is his arm length. His arms ranked in the 19th percentile, among tackles entering the league since 1999, according to mockdraftable. There are also concerns about technique, hand placement and footwork. But Long is going to be a good tackle for all the same reasons he was a great guard.
Long is just a great football player. The dude is a physical freak who combines that with intelligence and work ethic. With his mind completely dedicated to it, Long is going to be a great tackle, he just needs the reps.
The Bears don’t have a good reason not to play Long at tackle this year. Even without any experience, he’s probably the best tackle they have, outside of maybe Jermon Bushrod. We’ve seen enough of Jordan Mills to know he isn’t cut out for the position and Mike Ola is better as a guard. Second-year man Ryan Groy might also have a future in the league as he looked decent at in limited snaps a year ago. None of them can play tackle, all of them could become decent guards. They won’t be able to replace Long’s talent at guard, but they should be able to hold up.
Even if none of them work out, it’s typically easier to find standouts at that position later in the draft. While elite offensive tackles almost always go in the top-five, great guards rarely crack the top-15. Moving Long to tackle would be a move made for future considerations.
Long isn’t going to be one of the best tackles in the league right away, but he wasn’t expected to be one of the best guards in the league this quickly either. He’s proven pundits wrong before and he can do it again. The dude is a physical freak who combines that with intelligence and work ethic. All he needs is the snaps. The Bears might as well start giving them to him now.