There are very few positions on the Bears 2020 roster where there is not, today, a surefire starter. Might there be a battle at quarterback? I doubt it. Will there be a lot of jostling at tight end? Sure, but the Bears are still internally holding out hope for Trey Burton. The one position where there isn’t a starter on the roster? Right guard.
Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Charles Leno and Bobby Massie are starting in four of the five spots.
The remaining offensive linemen on the current call list: Alex Bars, Dino Boyd, Corey Levin, Sam Mustipher. Three of the four are about to enter their second year in the league. Sports books are pretty bored this days but I’m betting the odds are about 50-1 that any of these four guys is in the starting lineup come the beginning of the season.
(Yesterday the Bears signed Germain Ifedi to a one-year deal.)
The Bears need to add a guard. But more than that, they need to add an attitude to this unit. Kyle Long was not only a terrific player when healthy. He was also the temperamental leader of the group. He brought the pissed off. Brought the angry. In many ways, without playing the same position, he was the emotional heir apparent to Olin Kreutz. (Right down to controversial physical altercations.)
It’s not necessarily a quantifiable quality. They don’t test for anger in Indianapolis. So I went through the NFL draft profiles of some players I thought fit this bill and looked for buzz words, catch phrases…etc. And I found some!
Kyle Long‘s draft profile on NFL.com: “Plays with attitude, backs up his teammates on the field, cleans up piles.”
Richie Incognito was described by ESPN as “fiery”.
Nick Mangold report from FootballFuture: “He’s tough and will not back down from anyone.” This was generally a pretty critical write-up of Mangold physically. He turned out to be a terrific player.
Cleans up piles.
Will not back down.
That’s what the Bears need up front.
It’s been said that running the football in the NFL is an attitude. It’s less about scheme and more about winning one-on-one battles, and those often come down to who wants it more. The Bears don’t seem to want it in the run game. They don’t call run plays with conviction. They don’t block the run with conviction. Their backs don’t attack the line of scrimmage with conviction.
Unfortunately for the Bears, conviction is not available in free agency any longer. And I’m not 100% convinced that Graham Glasgow or Joe Thuney or Greg Van Roten possessed the kinds of qualities the Bears should have been seeking. So that means the draft.
And for that we turn to Scott Wright’s top five guards in this coming draft, and the reports all come from Lance Zierlein at NFL.com.
- Cesar Ruiz, Michigan.
- “Tenacious demeanor from whistle to whistle.”
- John Simpson, Clemson.
- (No such comment)
- Robert Hunt, Louisiana.
- “Looks to make a point with aggressive first contact.”
- Ben Bredeson, Michigan.
- “Rugged mentality will appeal to O-line coaches.”
- Logan Stenberg, Kentucky.
- “Has feisty field demeanor and plays with edge.”
I don’t know if these guys are going to be great NFL guards, and neither do any of the 32 NFL clubs. But if the Bears have the opportunity to choose between a skilled tactician and an alleyway street thug, they should take the thug. If the Bears want to get their run game back on schedule and impose their will, they need a leader along the line who cleans up piles, who is fiery, who will not back down.
They need talent. But more importantly, they need pissed off.