It’s no secret the Bears have a glaring hole at right guard heading into the offseason.
With both Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie only guaranteed starting spots for one more season, they could stand to draft an offensive tackle as well, maybe even spend a high draft pick on one.
The offensive line class this year is very lopsided with the offensive tackle position considered one of the best groups in this class, while the interior offensive line is considered one of the weakest.
The Bears should still be able to find some value at both positions throughout the draft, so let’s take a look at some of the players they could target entering the combine.
G Robert Hunt (Louisiana-Lafayette)
As I said above, this isn’t a great draft when it comes to guards, but Hunt might be one to take a look at with one of their first two picks. He is flying under the radar a bit due to playing at a smaller school but is one of my favorite prospects for the Bears to target on Day 2.
Hunt has a rare combination of power and movement skills usually reserved for first-round players. This will allow him to fit in nicely in the Bears zone scheme where he has the athleticism to get to the second level while also providing something they have been missing along the offensive line in terms of power. Next to Massie on the right side he would provide a power presence that should increase their efficiency in short-yardage situations.
Hunt has played both guard and tackle for the Ragin’ Cajuns, most recently excelling at right tackle his senior season. He can step into the right guard vacancy for the Bears right away while providing some nice versatility to play tackle in a pinch. He’s a bit raw technique-wise at the moment, but he is a 6-foot-5, 322-pound ball of clay any offensive line coach would love to get their hands on.
OT Lucas Niang (TCU)
More than likely there will be a better tackle prospect on the board when the Bears pick than guard. While they do not have an immediate need at the position, this would be a pick for the future.
Like Hunt, Niang brings great size, length and movement skills to the position. He’s the definition of a “dancing bear” with his quick feet despite being one of the larger draft prospects at 6-foot-7 and 328 pounds. It will be interesting to see what he weighs at the combine as he seems to be carrying some bad weight on his frame. If he comes in overweight or looking sloppy, it could be a red flag. He also dealt with a hip injury in 2019, so medical checks will be big for him as well.
Niang has all the physical tools to be a top tier tackle in the NFL. However, his footwork needs an overhaul as he consistently false stepped out of his stance. Despite sloppy footwork, the results speak for themselves as he rarely gave up pressures. His false step also could have been a result of his hip injury as it was more noticeable in 2019 than in 2018. It is unknown if he will compete in the athletic testing at the combine due to his hip although he should be fully healthy by training camp.
Most to prove
G Netane Muti (Fresno State)
Muti has proven a lot of things during his time at Fresno State. He proved he belonged as a redshirt freshman in 2017 when he started all 14 games on his way to All-Mountain West honors. He has proven he has the strength, athleticism and technique to become a starter in the NFL.
What he hasn’t proven is that he can stay healthy. After starting all 14 games as a freshman, his sophomore campaign was cut short after only two games at left tackle with an Achilles injury. He managed to play three games in 2019 before a Lisfranc injury.
With very little tape the last two seasons, he not only needs to prove he is completely healthy at the combine but also that multiple injuries have not sapped the athleticism and strength he showed three years ago. Even if everything checks out it is hard to see him going before Day 3 due to his injury history. As a low-risk high reward in the 6th or 7th round, I would love to see the Bears take a flyer.
OT Ben Bartch (St. Johns)
Bartch is a vastly different story than Muti. He’s been completely healthy his whole career. What he needs to prove is that he can play in the NFL.
Bartch is making the jump all the way from Division III St. Johns to the NFL, which is no easy task. He cleared the first hurdle when he was not only invited to the Senior Bowl but shined in one-on-one drills as well as the game. His athletic testing will be the next hurdle. He definitely has enough of it to play against Wisconsin Whitewater, but does he have enough to handle NFL defensive ends?
Bartch needs to get stronger and is strictly a developmental prospect at this point. The Bears do not need him to start in Year 1 and could even let him sit for a few years and let him learn behind Leno Jr. before eventually letting him take over the left tackle spot.
G Michael Onwenu (Michigan)
If you haven’t noticed already, I have a “type” when it comes to my offensive linemen. Onwenu could also fall into the “dancing bear” category as he moves much better than players who are much smaller than him.
Listed at 350 pounds you would expect him to be a mauling guard prospect and a better fit for a power run team. Then you watch his tape and you see a prospect who, while can be a mauler in the run game, has more than enough functional athleticism and movement skills to excel in a zone scheme like the Bears employ as well.
He carries 350 pounds well and by no means looks sloppy. Still, teams will be watching his weigh-in closely as there will be some concerns about his work ethic at that weight. He won’t run a fast 40 time although he should be able to surprise some people in the agility drills, which is arguably more indicative of future success for offensive linemen.
I could definitely see Onwenu sneaking into the late Day 2 conversation after a successful combine, which might take him out of the Bears’ range.
OT Cameron Clark (Charlotte)
Another smaller school prospect. Clark might have played in Division I; however, the competition in Conference USA is not at the same level as other Division I conferences. That being said, Charlotte’s game against National Champion Clemson is where Clark first caught my eye.
He more than held his own against Clemson’s defensive line. Clark has the length and power you want out of a developmental tackle and it showed in this game. The flashes are there, unfortunately, he did not sustain that level of play even against lesser opponents.
Clark is far from a perfect prospect as he needs to become more consistent and has the frame to add some weight as well. As far as developmental Day 3 tackles go, the Bears could do a whole lot worse.
Fastest 40-yard dash: Josh Jones (Houston)
Highest Vertical: Austin Jackson (USC)
Most Bench press reps: Damien Lewis (LSU)
Farthest Broad Jump: Josh Jones (Houston)
Fastest 3-cone: Keith Ismael (San Diego State)
Fastest Shuttle: Prince Tega Wanogho (Auburn)