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How Charles Leno Fits with the Chicago Bears

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How Charles Leno Fits with the Chicago Bears
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The Chicago Bears made their eighth and final selection in the 2014 NFL draft Saturday evening, selecting Boise State tackle Charles Leno with the 246th overall pick.

NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki projected Leno as a late-round pick, writing:

Long-armed, soft-bodied college left tackle most ideally suited for a role as a versatile, swing backup in a zone-blocking scheme. Has not learned how to translate his athletic ability and explosion to the field, yet possesses enough length, agility and untapped talent to find a role for a patient offensive line coach. Could warrant interest inside as a guard or center where he has help on each side. Similar to Packers OT Marshall Newhouse.

The Bears showed last season that they were willing to let a late-round pick compete for a starting role, as 2013 fifth-round pick Jordan Mills started all 16 games for the Bears last season at right tackle.

It is unlikely that Leno will beat out any of the team's projected five starters, but he does have a good chance of making the roster as a reserve offensive lineman.

After having one of the worst offensive lines in all of football during the early portion of Jay Cutler's tenure as a member of the Chicago Bears, the 2013 offensive line looked like a group of Pro Bowlers by comparison.

The team solidified the left side of the line via free agency, signing Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson last offseason and drafting Kyle Long and Mills to help shore up the right side of the line.

The combination of Bushrod, Slauson, Roberto Garza, Long and Mills started all 16 games last season.

The team will head into 2014 with Eben Britton and Joe Long as the likely backups at the tackle position, leaving Leno with the opportunity to fight for a spot at guard.

As Nawrocki pointed out in his overview of Leno above, he may be best suited inside at guard or center, so he is not left alone on an island.

In a teleconference with the media, Leno commented on his versatility, saying, "I can play tackle or guard. I'll be ready to roll."

His long arms and quickness make him a solid candidate outside at tackle, but his tendency to play flat-footed causes him to struggle against speedy pass-rushers.

While he may be best suited on the inside, his versatility to play both tackle positions should help warrant a spot for him on this roster, even if he struggles with the move. 

The offensive line was not the biggest need for the Bears heading into the 2013 draft, but Emery found a player in Leno that gives the team flexibility at all five positions and one that should be able to develop into at least a solid backup in the future. 

 

All stats and combine information courtesy of Sports-Reference.com or NFL.com.

Matt Eurich is an NFL/Chicago Bears Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow @MattEurich 

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