The Super Six

William Beatty would be one of six terrific additions to the Bears' offensive line.

There is little question that the Bears need a major overhaul on the offensive line. It was the team’s weakness before Phil Emery was named general manager last January, and it still is. If there was ever an offseason to upgrade the line, it would be this one. The free agency period starts in exactly two weeks, and there are six offensive linemen that the Bears need to heavily consider. The cap space available is not as high as it has been in past years for the organization, but Cliff Stein has worked bigger miracles. Brad Biggs has reported that they will have around $11 million to play with, but with a Charles Tillman and Brandon Marshall extension, that number could rise. It could also climb with a restructuring of Julius Peppers’ contract. Releasing the pitiful Kellen Davis, confused Devin Hester, and/or the mediocre Matt Spaeth could also free up room for Phil Emery to operate. Regardless, the intention of the offseason has to be to protect Jay Cutler, and there are six qualified free agent offensive tackles to reach that goal.

Ryan Clady- Ryan Clady is one of the best tackles in football. His 2012 was not as dominant as his past seasons, but from the first time he stepped on the field his rookie year, it was obvious he was going to be a good player. It is a shame he had to be drafted two slots before the Bears selected in 2008, when they had Chris Williams fall to them. With Peyton Manning needing a blindside protector badly thanks to numerous neck surgeries, there is no way Clady leaves the Rocky Mountains.

William Beatty- Beatty was nothing short of spectacular in pass protection last season for the Giants. His issue has always been one of two things: penalties and injuries. Back spasms flare up from time to time for him, and in 2012, he had 11 penalties called against him, 8 of which were holding calls. His age (27) makes him an attractive player for many teams.

Jake Long- From 2009-2011, Pro Football Focus recorded statistics for all offensive linemen during that time. Jake Long played 1,614 snaps and only gave up 63 pressures. That is a remarkable number, considering Gabe Carimi seemingly gave up 63 in one game last season in San Francisco. A lot has been made of Long’s injuries and his 2012 drop off. Most analysts believe he is looking for 30-40 million guaranteed over the course of a contract, but he is not going to get that. It would be tough for Long to pass up a contract in the Midwest, where he’s from, if Chicago offered up a rich contract.

Branden Albert- If the Chiefs do not select an offensive tackle with the first pick in April’s draft, I would be surprised. This would probably be the end of the road for Branden Albert in Kansas City. Like Long and Beatty, he has had some back injuries, but from 2009-2011, he only gave up 96 pressures in 1,552 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. He also gave up only one sack in 11 games last year. Albert is still relatively young as well, and he has made it known that he does not want to stay with the Chiefs if they expect him to line up inside. With that being said, Kansas City will most likely use their franchise tag on Dwayne Bowe and let Albert walk.

Sebastian Vollmer- One of two current NFL players born in Germany, Sebastian Vollmer is the best right tackle in the league. He only gave up 56 pressures from 2009-2011, and his 2012 was very good as well. A lot of people will claim he is a typical New England system product, but make no mistake, Vollmer would be a terrific addition to the Bears. He would add leadership and skill there, the latter lacking for years.

Jermon Bushrod- Nobody has been talked about more this offseason in regards to the Bears than Jermon Bushrod. This probably comes from the fact that new Bears’ offensive coordinator, Aaron Kromer, was his offensive line coach in New Orleans. Bushrod has made two Pro Bowls, both because of his name and the offense he plays on. Last season, he did not grade out positively in any game from week 12-17 according to PFF’s scale. As I pointed out a few days ago on twitter, J’Marcus Webb’s 2012 was statistically better than Bushrod’s. Webb gave up a pressure every 20 snaps while Bushrod gave up a pressure every 15 plays. Bushrod graded out 45th overall among all tackles, while Webb finished 35th overall. Bushrod might be a better player than Webb is, but it will be hard for Emery to sell a huge contact to Bushrod to fans if it happens.

I would hope that Emery is not as incompetent as Jerry Angelo was in terms of drafting offensive linemen. Last season, he drafted none and signed a quitter. If he drafts two and signs one of the aforementioned six, that will be a successful offseason. It is simply time to give the biggest weakness of this team a major upgrade. With a quality team in the trenches, this is a Super Bowl contender.

by Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)

4 Responses to “The Super Six”

  1. I gave the Bears a pass on not upgrading the Offensive Line last year because I didn’t really think there were many options out there to actually upgrade the line. This year does look different. I would LOVE Clady (Broncos Midwest!) but it seems impossible that Denver wouldn’t franchise him. But Albert or Long would be good choices, if they didn’t break the bank.

    I’m more worried about going through the draft. I’m not certain how much turnover there’s been in the scouting department, but I had lost all faith in the previous regime’s ability to judge O-Line talent in the draft. Time will tell if Emery can improve on that.

  2. I can’t see the Bears making any big splashes in Free Agency with the cap space we have and surely any good players in FA will be looking for big bucks. If we tag Melton doesn’t that then give us ‘only’ around $3 million to play with. I have a hunch Urlacher will be back all be it on a reduced wage but that will chip a bit more off the cap space.

    There is a lot of talk about drafting a tight end that can catch but I’d like to see Emery go for O-line O-line O-line in the draft. Is there no love for Davis in Chicago to give him another chance????

  3. The tag on Melton will restrict us a bit… Look for cuts in the near future.

  4. Great article Brian! Dave, seems like we’re both hung up on the fact that Kellen Davis SHOULD be a dominant tight end. I am as bummed as you are that he isn’t. But I’m afraid he’s proven that he just can’t/won’t be.

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