The Chicago Bears suffered a series of unfortunate injuries at offensive tackle in their loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Both starting left tackle Jason Peters (quad) and his backup Larry Borom (ankle) left the game and didn’t return. This forced Elijah Wilkinson to man that position for the rest of the game. Now the status of both men are questionable for next week against Cincinnati. It wouldn’t be surprising if the team looked to add some depth at tackle this week. Sure enough, that came to pass on Wednesday as the Bears reached an agreement to sign Alex Taylor to their practice squad.
This was an interesting addition. Though an undrafted free agent in 2020 out of South Carolina State, many draft evaluators felt he had Day 2 talent. Like many players from smaller schools, his problems were related to uncertainty of how to use his hands and length to full effect.
#Bears roster move:
We have signed OL Alex Taylor to the practice squad.
— Chicago Bears (@BearsPR) September 15, 2021
It isn’t hard to see why the Bears were interested in him.
Coming out of college, the tackle stood at 6’8, 308 lbs with ridiculous 36-inch arms. Just a massive human being. As a former basketball player, he also showcases considerable athleticism. So why didn’t he stick with his original team, the Cleveland Browns? A simple case of depth chart overcrowding. They already had 1st round pick Jedrick Willis and Pro Bowler Jack Conklin in place. When the team drafted James Hudson in the 4th round, Taylor’s chances of making the roster were all but dead. Still, scouting reports like this one from Lance Zierlein of NFL.com suggest untapped potential.
“Exceptional combination of length and athleticism will have NFL evaluators salivating over Taylor’s potential…He will come into camp with some technical savvy to work with as a run blocker, but will need to better time his punch and improve his inside-out positioning in order to be ready to handle diversified rush attacks. He has Day 2 talent and could become a starter with additional strength and technique work.”
Taylor is the type of prospect that Bears offensive line coach Juan Castillo loves. Big, athletic, and a good run blocker. His ability to teach fundamentals is a big reason for his sustained success in the NFL. So it isn’t hard to see why he’d embrace the challenge of taking on Taylor as a project.
Wow— Talk about impressing at the Senior Bowl in Mobile. Listen to ESPN Commentators say they can see Berkeley HS grad Alex Taylor, out of SC State, going as high as the 2nd round. Not bad for the Moncks Corner native. pic.twitter.com/5q7ZS2MLwH
— Scott Eisberg (@SEisbergWCIV) January 22, 2020
South Carolina State's Alex Taylor vs Trevis Gipson. pic.twitter.com/mihp5vMBjq
— Billy M (@BillyM_91) January 22, 2020
— Ro’b Al Ghul (@alachingada_) January 29, 2020
Alex Taylor didn’t look overwhelmed in first action
Remember he didn’t get a chance to play at all last season because the NFL canceled the preseason due to COVID-19. So Taylor didn’t see his first actual action for Cleveland until this past August. All things considered, he didn’t do too bad. Across 26 snaps in pass protection, he allowed just two pressures on the quarterback. Pro Football Focus gave him a strong run blocking grade of 83.5. So he looked like he belonged out there.
It comes down to whether he pounces on this new opportunity.
The Bears aren’t nearly as set at tackle as the Browns are. Peters is 39-years old and a temporary solution. Second round pick Teven Jenkins is recovering from back surgery. Germain Ifedi is operating on a one-year deal. There is little in the way of long-term stability at that position. So this is a great chance for Alex Taylor to make an impression. If he embraces the work presented to him by Castillo, he is bound to get better.
Then it becomes a matter of proving it on the field. Given the injuries that are mounting for the Bears, that might come faster than he thinks. This will be a fun story to watch moving forward.