Bears Could Seek Competition On O-Line In Draft

The Bears own two second-round picks at No. 43 and No. 50 overall.

Chris Emma
April 02, 2020 - 5:44 pm
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(670 The Score) Bears coach Matt Nagy made his frustration clear about the offensive line's poor play after a disappointing 2019 season. 

But with four starters set to return on multi-year deals, the blame largely fell on position coach Harry Hiestand, who was fired two days after the end of the regular season. Nagy turned to a former colleague in Juan Castillo as the Bears' new offensive line coach. Their big focus will be on activating the running game. From there, the focus will turn to the players.

The Bears are giving recently signed offensive lineman Germain Ifedi the chance to prove himself on a one-year deal, but he's not the only blocker they hope can step up.

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Left tackle Charles Leno struggled mightily at times last season. Right tackle Bobby Massie was inconsistent during the 10 games in which he was healthy. James Daniels failed to handle his new role at center and was moved back to left guard in November, with Cody Whitehair shifting from left guard back to center. Meanwhile, there's a void at right guard after Kyle Long's retirement, one that presumably will be filled by Ifedi.

The Bears head into the 2020 season confident in Castillo's coaching and believe their scheme can help produce what's expected of their experienced offensive line. Beyond that, they're also likely to address the offensive line in the NFL Draft, which begins April 23.

General manager Ryan Pace often speaks of drafting the best player available. When the Bears are on the clock for the first time -- they own two second-round picks at No. 43 and No. 50 overall -- there's a fair chance the best player available is a tackle. This draft is deep in tackle talent, and that could work to the Bears' advantage.

The top tackles like Georgia's Andrew Thomas, Iowa's Tristan Wirfs, Alabama's Jedrick Wills Jr. and Louisville's Mekhi Becton will go early in the first round, but there project to be quality options available in the second round. Houston's Josh Jones, USC's Austin Jackson, Auburn's Prince Tega Wanogho and Boise State's Ezra Cleveland are all potential tackle options for the Bears on the second day of the draft.

If the Bears went that route, they'd create competition for the 30-year-old Massie or the 28-year-old Leno, who are both under contract for three more seasons. The Bears could get out of either contract after this 2020 season. Massie and Leno are also candidates to restructure their contracts to create more cap space for 2020 -- and would likely gain some job security in that process.

As for this season, the Bears are likely to play the more natural tackle Ifedi at right guard. He will face competition from second-year guard Alex Bars, who made a strong impression on the coaching staff as an undrafted rookie in 2019. Rashaad Coward, who struggled in parts of 10 starts last season, is also considered a developing player and will get a chance to battle for a starting spot.

Competition will be a theme on the Bears' offensive line this season. They hope for Ifedi and more to prove themselves well.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.