Charles Leno, the 2018 NFL Draft and the Perceived State of the Bears Offensive Line

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune discusses the possibility that the Bears will select an offensive lineman, perhaps in the first round. Biggs is at the Senior Bowl:

“[A] scout stopped in front of his hotel and said, ’I get why you’re asking me about Calvin [Ridley] but I think the Bears will draft a lineman.'”

“One of the first things general manager Ryan Pace must do is make a decision on the future of left guard Josh Sitton, who was a team captain in 2017. He has a team option for 2018 that must be exercised between Feb. 9, five days after Super Bowl LII, and March 9, five days before the start of the new league year. Sitton is due to earn $8 million with a $7.4 million base salary, $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses and a $100,000 workout bonus — but only if the team picks up the option.

“Next, the Bears will need to determine if they want to pay a $1 million roster bonus to right tackle Bobby Massie on March 16 when they will be three days into free agency.

“How the Bears navigate these decisions will provide clues for how the team will proceed in free agency and later in the draft when perhaps they will consider Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson with the eighth overall pick or maybe an offensive tackle. They also could consider a guard in later rounds.”

“Perhaps the scout is right and they wind up going with a lineman in the first round. That seems more likely if they move on from Sitton.”

As I said in a previous post, one thing I don’t understand is why last year’s 5th round pick, Jordan Morgan is never mentioned in these conversations. Of course, the Bears would be fools to put all of their eggs in that basket and Morgan did spend the year on IR which undoubtedly limited his development. But still, you’d think the possibility that he could earn the job would at least be addressed.

But though I wouldn’t discount the possibility that the scout was talking about guard or replacing Massie, I’m not so sure. One thing I’ve noticed in talking to people who follow other teams, and, in particular, in the media outside of Chicago, is that people don’t think much of left tackle Charles Leno. Certainly they don’t rate him anywhere near as highly as the Bears evidently do.

For example, PFF mentioned Leno as being among the worst players in the league at his position in 2015. They also rated him just 42nd out of 76 qualifying tackles in 2016. Though that may have come up a bit this year its evident that they aren’t big fans and I think that opinion seems to be often shared.

Hub Arkush at Pro Football Weekly has been a particularly vocal critic locally.

I don’t think the Bears are sandbagging with Leno. I think they really like him and they have committed to him with a long-term contract. But his dead cap number drops dramatically in 2019 to only $2.7 million and it’s evident that the rest of the league generally doesn’t see what the Bears say that they do.   That might be affecting the way that scouts and general managers are expecting the Bears to go in this draft.

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