Bears fans should be excited about the fact that the Bears recognized that they had a desperate need on their offensive line, and with their first pick in the draft they got some help to put them closer to having a much better offensive line. Gabe Carimi can play either the left or right side and his presence will be an immediate upgrade for that ailing unit.
Most experts agree that the Bears did leave something on the table in the draft, though, and while Carimi was a nice addition, the Bears needed to do more to get this unit ready for the 2011 season.
Keep in mind that Chicago had needs at the guard position and the center position and didn’t do anything to take care of those needs in the draft. Just how serious is this? Right now the Bears have no center on the roster. Last year’s starter Olin Kreutz is not signed (but the Bears do have intentions on signing him), so Chicago is in limbo at that position.
Their guard spots are manned by a converted left/right tackle in Chris Williams and an ever aging veteran in Roberto Garza. Garza has seen his effectiveness (especially in the passing game) dwindle over the course of last two seasons and his play is nearing detrimental status for the team.
Williams may not even be a guard next season and that leaves guys like Edwin Williams (who is also listed as center and the Bears may try him out there), Herman Johnson (one of the biggest guards you will ever see) and Lance Louis (a brief starter from last season). This group is not going get suddenly better and turn into one of the league's best units. Some help was clearly needed here and it didn’t come.
The offensive tackle position, barring any kind of injury, should be stable with both J’Marcus Webb and Carimi in play. The biggest question here is which player will play where. The consensus opinion is that Carimi is going to man the right side while the Bears, who are high on Webb, will move him over to the left side. Both players can play both positions but Carimi may be better suited to play the right tackle position.
Why? Carimi comes from a system that has produced some top quality offensive linemen in the last few years and he is good and played left tackle at the college level well, but lacks some of the basic fundamentals to at least start his career as a left tackle. Granted, he can get some help from offensive line coach Mike Tice, but Carimi is not going to begin his career as the Bear’s left tackle.
Moving Webb over and having Carimi play the right tackle position basically solidifies those two positions on the offensive line.
Going back to the guard position, as the season ended, the Bears had Williams and Garza starting at those positions. Garza is sure to start at one spot, but Williams will see some competition from those players that the Bears currently have listed at the guard position.
Since it’s doubtful that the Bears are going to bring in any additional talent (except perhaps an undrafted free agent or perhaps they could bring in someone via trade) this sounds like it’s going to be the way it is at the guard position heading into next year.
The center position will be manned by Olin Kreutz once again (after the Bears sign him, once players can be signed when the lockout is over), but his time with the Bears is just about done. There has been some talk about moving the often-moved Williams to center and this just might work. The Bears have to do something to get Williams involved on the offensive line, especially with his lofty draft status and paycheck.
It’s obvious that the Bears did get some improvement on their offensive line during the draft but they clearly didn’t get enough help. It would have been nice to see a center and/or a guard picked up in the draft, but last year the Bears were miracle workers at times on that offensive line.
Hopefully they can do that again in 2011.