It's not exactly a state secret that the Chicago Bears need to augment their offensive line in the offseason. Since the well-documented labor issues have prohibited conventional free agency, the first chance that general manager Jerry Angelo will have to attempt to meet that goal is in the 2011 NFL draft.
The 2010 NFL season was very good to the Chicago Bears. They seemed to get every break en route to winning the NFC North and advancing to the NFC Championship Game.
That deep run, however, may prove to ultimately be a setback in the overall progress of this team.
Some will say that you are as good as your record says you are, and there's some merit in that statement. However, the 2010 Bears are the exception to that rule.
They were not as good as their record would have you believe.
They struggled to protect quarterback Jay Cutler, ultimately leading to the now-infamous MCL sprain in the NFC Championship Game. They still do not have a true No. 1 receiver, free safety or 3-technique defensive tackle.
The absence of sound pass-protection in a Mike Martz offense easily has to be the No. 1 concern. If it's not, that cements my opinion that the Jerry Angelo era must come to an end.
If not an OT, which position should the Bears go after with their first pick?
That being said, due to the Bears' deep playoff run, they are currently selecting 29th in the first round. They are in desperate need of tackle help as Frank Omiyale and J'Marcus Webb both underwhelmed last year. Looking at most people's mock drafts, all of the top-level tackles will be selected before the 29th pick.
This is where Jerry Angelo and his team of scouts are going to make the biggest difference. In my opinion, the line separating the end-of-the-first-round talent and the beginning-of-the-second-round talent is fuzzy at best.
Picking 29th gives Angelo the ability to choose between what everyone knows he should do and what he himself believes he can do.
Angelo needs to be mindful of his drafting history.
Few of his draft picks have worked out, so he needs to stick to the game plan. While the tackles may be gone, if a guard like Danny Watkins from Baylor or Jason Pinkston from Pittsburgh is available, that may be the best way to go.
Some mock drafts have the Bears selecting a defensive tackle in that spot. I've also heard to not be surprised if they select a wide receiver with that pick.
No defensive tackle in this draft is worthy of selection before an offensive lineman. The receivers? After A.J. Green and Julio Jones, there is a big drop-off. Both those names figure to be gone by the time the Bears are on the clock.
There is no way the Chicago Bears should pass up an opportunity to improve the pass-protection and/or augment the running game. No other option at No. 29 will help the Bears as much.