Nate Atkins at ChicagoFootball.com breaks down the Bears draft (and free agent) needs. This is one of many articles which we can expect to see on the subject but I think the top needs, defensive line, offensive line and inside linebacker, are well established. The only real question is what order you put them in. I do have one bone to pick with Atkin’s analysis, however:
“Dave Magazu received all kinds of credit for his grooming of Charles Leno Jr. at left tackle last season. But Leno was a seventh-round pick for a reason, with limited athleticism, and his inability to play on the right side makes the position a priority even if Kyle Long finds a home at left tackle. The Bears also could improve their right guard spot, where neither Patrick Omameh nor Vlad Ducasse (sp) solidified down the stretch last season.”
“Could” is understating it. The Bears have a major need at right guard where neither Omameh nor Ducasse are starters. It’s possible that Atkins’ soft stance has more to do with doubt about whether you address it in the first round – which is certainly valid. But the need is beyond doubt.
But what I’d really like to focus on is the first part of this quote. Atkins implication that the Bears may move Long to left tackle is probably a reflection of the influence of Chicago Football publisher and respected football writer, Hub Arkush on his opinion. Whatever else you say about Arkush’s opinions, they’re always strong and he’s made it very clear in the past that he thinks Long’s move to left tackle is already overdue. I’m not so sure.
First, at least to my eye, Leno didn’t do too badly at left tackle. It’s obvious that he didn’t belong on the right side but for some reason the left side suited him. I can say this: I don’t know why Leno was a seventh rounder but it wasn’t because of limited athleticism. He moves extremely well. I’m not at all certain that isn’t what made him a better left tackle than right, where more power is required, nor am I convinced that he doesn’t have a future as a very good left tackle in the league.
I found the opinion of David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune that there was nothing for NFL teams to learn from Sunday’s Super Bowl to be amusing. There’s always something to learn from any game and, in fact, there was at least one thing that stuck out that could teach a lot of people a lesson. Watching Carolina right tackle Mike Remmers get beaten like a drum by Denver pass rusher Von Miller should have taught people that, though they generally make less money, very good right tackles are almost as valuable in the NFL as left tackles are. I’m not at all sure that your best athlete need be moved to the left, as both Arkush and possibly Atkins believe, especially when you’ve already got a decent guy on the left side who doesn’t seem to be as capable on the right.
The one thing you have to do as a developing team is use the draft to fill holes. Especially when you already have a lot of those holes to fill, creating holes moves you backwards not forwards as a team. Moving Long to left tackle creates two holes, right tackle and right guard, where only one existed before. If right tackle is where the need is, right is where you put your guy. That’s the case here.