2011 NFL Draft Results: Chicago Bears Address Holes on O-Line with Gabe Carimi

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2011 NFL Draft Results: Chicago Bears Address Holes on O-Line with Gabe Carimi
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Gabe Carimi, newest OT on the Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears are looking at the 2011 NFL season and seeing some glaring needs across the board.

They still do not have a No. 1 wide receiver to complement the monster investment they've made in Jay Cutler, their linebacking corps isn't getting younger, their secondary regularly lets Da Bears faithful clutch at their hearts when opposing offenses decide to go deep and, oh yeah, the offensive line can't keep Jay Cutler from getting beaten like a red-headed stepchild every weekend.

That's not exactly the recipe for success when you're coming into a season where you'll go against a Lezlie Frasier-led defense in Minnesota, Clay Matthews coming off the corners in Green Bay and big ol' Ndamukong Suh rampaging up the middle in Detroit.

All of those are divisional matchups that the Bears cannot overlook if they wish to continue to compete in their own division, let alone the NFC as a whole.

So it was appropriate that they started off Day 1 of the draft by acknowledging one key fact: The huge investment they made in Jay Cutler means absolutely nothing if they continue to let him get abused by opposing defenses.

Enter Gabe Carimi, offensive tackle from Wisconsin.

The guy is a mauler, a classical midwestern boy raised to get dirty with the hogs in the trenches. With his talent and athleticism alone, he should be able to immediately slip in to the starting lineup and help Bears fans forget the obvious mistake of drafting Chris Williams a couple years back out of Vanderbilt.

Make no mistake, offensive line coach Mike Tice is usually a fan of throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. He cooked a (barely) serviceable meal from table scraps last year and it got the Bears to the NFC Championship game. So before the season starts, assuming there's an offseason (or a regular season for that matter), expect to hear stories out of Chicago about Tice playing Carimi at both sides of the offensive line.

However, if he lives up to the pre-draft hype, Carimi should be able to slip into the starting spot on the left side of the line to help protect Cutler's blind side. Tice can then shift Chris Williams to the right side of the line and let him be the bulldozer he needs to be to help get Matt Forte and Chester Taylor some breathing room every time they take the handoff. Olin Kreutz will resume his role at center, while Roberto Garza and Lance Louis can still step in at guard on either side of Kreutz.

This draft pick is not a panacea for the Bears' woes with both the pass rush and run blocking. However, with even this one key component nailed down, look for a much improved Bears team to step up in the NFC North.

Carimi will help them start to punch back when the big slobberknockers on defensive lines across the Black and Blue division start to pound on their front door.

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