Monday, May 27, 2024

The Bears Should Not Take An Offensive Tackle In The First Round Of Next Week’s NFL Draft

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The 2024 NFL is almost here, as it is nearly one week until fans and the media know how the Chicago Bears will use both of their first-round draft picks. Although it is almost a foregone conclusion that the team will select USC quarterback Caleb Williams first overall, there remains uncertainty on how they will utilize the ninth overall selection as rumors swirl about which position will be targeted. As speculation continues to intensify for positions like defensive end and wide receiver, offensive tackle remains a possibility, but given their current roster situation, Chicago should not use their second first-round selection at the position.

The Bears Have More Positional Needs Than At Offensive Tackle, Despite the Potential Talent Available In The Draft

The 2024 NFL Draft is viewed as a deeply talented first round because of the number of skilled prospects available at the quarterback, wide receiver, offensive tackle, and defensive end positions. Given the potential for multiple signal-callers to be drafted immediately by QB-needy teams, The Bears will have the opportunity to select the best player at a position when their second first-round pick comes up. There is a chance that if Chicago doesn’t trade down from the ninth position, they could select the best offensive tackle, tight end, or defensive player in the draft.

Despite offensive tackle prospects, such as Olumuyiwa Fashanu and Joe Alt, potentially being available when Chicago makes their second selection of the first round, the pick is better used for a different position of higher need, such as defensive end. Although Olumuyiwa and Alt could be as good as current Bear Darnell Wright, the team would have a massive hole at the defensive end position opposite of Pro Bowl rusher Montez Sweat, which puts the defense at risk.

Alt and Fashanu are more of a commodity than a necessity right now because of the presence of left tackle Braxton Jones, who has been serviceable the last two seasons with the Bears. Jones, at times during the 2023 season, was arguably Chicago’s most reliable pass-blocker on the offensive line. Chicago’s offensive line, as a whole, was an improved unit, with their more glaring weakness being at the center position.

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Last season, starting center Lucas Patrick was regarded as the weak link on an offensive line that had improved across the board as the season progressed, especially once guards Nate Davis and Teven Jenkins were healthy. Patrick struggled significantly with shot-gun snaps, as they were often low and inaccurate to quarterback Justin Fields. Throughout the offseason, fans and draft analysts have clamored for Chicago to try and take Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson, as they believe he would be the missing piece for the potential 2024 Bears’ starting offensive line.

Given the likelihood that Bears’ general manager, Ryan Poles, selects Williams first overall, it would be ideal to use the second of the two first-round picks on another offensive player. However, adding a pass-catcher or interior offensive lineman appears more valuable, as a rookie offensive tackle may produce the same results as Jones could. Adding a pass-catching talent such as Rome Odunze or Malik Nabers could be even more beneficial to Williams than an offensive tackle because it would allow him to get the ball out faster.

Jones Deserves A Chance To Prove Himself Given The New Circumstances Surrounding the Offense Heading Into 2024

Using the ninth overall selection on an offensive tackle is questionable, especially with a multitude of new settings for the offensive line. Chicago has a new offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron and a new offensive line coach in Chris Morgan. Morgan has been an offensive line coach in the league since 2014 and has worked with over six NFL teams. Under new guidance and in a new offensive scheme, Jones deserves the opportunity to prove that he can be Chicago’s long-term starting left tackle for the next several years.

In addition to the new offensive scheme, Jones will be working with a new quarterback, likely Williams, who will be different from Fields. One of the most significant criticisms of Chicago’s recent starting quarterback was his lack of pocket presence and weakness for holding onto the ball too long. Fields’ struggles in the pocket, resulting in an unnecessary amount of sacks, leading to the offensive line, including Jones, being blamed constantly. With Williams, Chicago’s third-year left tackle may have an easier time with pass-blocking as the rookie quarterback may have a better pocket presence and an ability to get the ball out quicker.

Although it may not be wise for the Bears to use their second first-round selection on one of the top offensive tackles, they should be open to using one of their later-round picks on a tackle if one is there. Poles is highly respected for his ability to find offensive line talent in the mid to late rounds of the NFL Draft, as he played a crucial role in rebuilding Kansas City’s offensive line back in 2021. Especially with his former playing experience as an offensive lineman, Chicago’s general manager should be able to find offensive talent anywhere in the draft, enabling the team to use higher-round selections for other positions.

Taking a tackle like Alt or Fashanu won’t be the worst selection in the world, but there are more pressing needs right now for the Bears’ roster heading into 2024. Poles taking a potential wide receiver or defensive end would be more vital to Chicago’s immediate and long-term success outside of the development of Williams if the team takes him first overall. Providing a first-round quarterback with an anchor offensive tackle is always ideal, unfortunately given the Bears’ current needs, adding a pass-catcher or a pass-rusher is more valuable than a pass-blocker.

20 COMMENTS

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Vtdsypher
Vtdsypher
Apr 18, 2024 1:12 pm

Don’t waste a pick on a LT. Braxton Jones will be fine, the Bears already said Bates is the center. I think Davis will have a bounce back season after his mom died beginning of 2023 followed by getting injured. I also think not having Fields in the pocket will help more than people think. The sack % went down when Fields was injured and not playing. I don’t think the Bears would’ve traded for Bates and signed that much Line depth just to draft a LT.

Mantis Toboggan
Mantis Toboggan
Apr 18, 2024 10:47 am

@slip knotz You can absolutely make moves today that are future planning vs. meeting immediate needs. In my opinion, being able to compete for the next 10+ years is defined as: Caleb Williams is a top 10 NFL QB. Certainly a great defense can help a young QB with a short field, or not having to put up 50 points. However, I think moreso than anything a line that gives you time to throw and keeps you upright and not on IR is probably more important. Fautanu & JC Latham both have inside outside flexibility on the line. This is… Read more »

timgjerde56
Apr 18, 2024 8:32 am

Ran a few Mocks for shits and grins to see how I might most of the Bears needs into the picture. This is just an example, but some of it is possible if Poles works the phones.
Got tired of trading down so I picked a RB…there was no better pick at that point.
I considered Latu instead of Murphy, but I’d seen the other Edge possibilities lower in the draft and liked the numbers. I’m no expert so this is kind of a “throw the mud at the wall an d see what sticks” approach, I admit.

pff_mock_results-7
Last edited 1 month ago by timgjerde56
Sam
Sam
Apr 18, 2024 7:56 am

“New offensive line coach Chris Morgan” 😂😂. Nope, that piss poor coach has been here for the past 2 seasons sir. This article is all around rough to read. Although I do 100% agree with the overall theme of it. We don’t need a tackle. That’s pretty dam low on the list of concern areas. We need some long term help at WR, Center, Edge or 3T. If Odunze or Nabers is there, that’s an easy pick. If not, then I am on team trade back and go with one of JPJ, Barton, Thomas Jr, Latu, Murphy or Newton. Wish… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Sam
luapgnik
luapgnik
Apr 18, 2024 5:36 am

If Alt is there by chance I don’t see them trading down. Dominant LTs are rare. Take him and you have a cornerstone for years.

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