Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune thinks that history should provide a lesson for Bears general manager Ryan Pace:
“It’s easy to point to busted draft picks and say that is why [former Bears general manager Jerry] Angelo was dumped after 11 seasons, but trace his problems closely and they were rooted in not maintaining the offensive line.
“In a span of five drafts from 2003-2007, the Bears had 42 total picks with 23 coming in the top four rounds. Only one of those 23 was an offensive lineman and only three linemen were selected overall — one in the sixth round and two in the seventh. The fourth-rounder, Josh Beekman, made 20 starts and didn’t pan out.”
As Biggs points out, Angelo ended up relying too heavily on free agency to stock the line. But in fairness, this isn’t entirely his fault. Offensive line coaches simply have to be able to develop players that are drafted in later rounds or that are found as street free agents. It was former Bears offensive line coach Aaron Kromer‘s specialty and it was what made him so attractive as an offensive coordinator under Marc Trestman.
You can’t rely entirely on late draft picks and rookie free agents. That’s been proven, particularly at left tackle. But putting together a good offensive line is a combination of good drafting and development. If either breaks down, you’re going to fail.
In the case of the current Bears line, I’m encouraged that Charles Leno in particular was able to step in and play so well last week. It’s a very small sample size to be sure but it’s a hopeful sign that offensive line coach Dave Magazu knows what he’s doing and that he can develop talent at the position. Let’s hope it continues. They’re going to need Leno and a whole lot more this Sunday.