The draft is only a few weeks away and right now the Chicago Bears are starting either last year’s undrafted free agent Alex Bars or Seahawks cast-off Germain Ifedi at right guard. Odds are the Bears will look to either upgrade the position in the draft or at the very least get some young talent in the door to compete with those two guys.
I have highlighted six prospects that fit the Bears’ scheme and broke them into three categories: Studs (second-round prospects), Steals (mid-round prospects) and Sleepers (late-round prospects).
Robert Hunt (Louisiana Lafayette)
Hunt is a former two-star recruit who almost gave up on football altogether before being offered a scholarship to play at Louisiana-Lafayette. Hunt rewarded their belief in him by becoming a four-year starter for the Ragin Cajuns, earning first- and second-team all Sun Belt honors the past two seasons at right tackle. He was eventually invited to participate in the Senior Bowl but a groin injury prevented him from competing.
At 6-foot-5, 323 pounds with over 33-inch arms, he has the size and length to potentially stick at tackle in the NFL. Although, most agree he can really shine on the interior.
Coming from a run-heavy offense, his run blocking is well ahead of his pass blocking at this time. He has a powerful base and a strong upper body, which allows him to roll into his blocks to overpower defenders in the run game. He’s athletic for his size, and this helps him get to the second level in the run game, and his size could help him to become an even better pass protector.
As a redshirt junior, his first year at right tackle, he saw a marked improvement in his pass protection, only allowing nine pressures in over 400 pass block snaps. He was off to an even better start in 2019, allowing only two pressures in nearly 200 snaps before a groin injury shut him down for the season. Had he not sustained the injury, he could have worked his way into first-round consideration.
If the Bears draft a guard in the second round of the NFL Draft, my money would be on Hunt.
He would step in to fill the hole at right guard and immediately be the best run blocker on the team while also being average at least in pass protection. Hunt could also potentially move back to tackle in an emergency or in a few years.
Jonah Jackson (Ohio State)
Hunt is the best guard prospect in this draft, but Ohio State’s Jonah Jackson might be the safest bet. Jackson attended Rutgers for four years and started in 2017 and 2018. As a Scarlet Knight, he earned an All-Big Ten honorable mention before transferring as a graduate student to Ohio State. This past season, he was able to claim first-team All-Big Ten honors along with third-team All-American.
Unlike Hunt, Jackson is far more advanced as a pass protector, making him a perfect fit for the Bears’ pass-first offensive scheme. In over 1,000 pass block snaps in the Big Ten, Hunt has only surrendered one sack and one quarterback hit. He wins with technique rather than brute strength and elite athleticism. However, he is at least adequate in both aspects. His combine performance was rather average across the board, but the tape shows a smart player with a quick first step to get to the second level in a zone scheme
Jackson played right guard in 2018 before moving to left guard for the Buckeyes this past season. He also has experience at center. His versatility should be an asset for his draft evaluation and also allow him to play right away as a rookie.
Danny Pinter (Ball State)’
Danny Pinter started his career at Ball State as a tight end, starting 11 games between 2016 and 2017 and catching nine passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. Before 2018, he made the switch to tackle and started 12 games on the right side. He continued to become more comfortable at his new position in 2019, earning first-team All-MAC honors while putting him on NFL radars with an invite to the NFL Combine.
As to be expected of an offensive lineman who was only recently 250 pounds, Pinter’s play strength is currently below average. However, he makes up for that with elite movement skills that are easily visible on tape. For safe measure, he showed at the combine that his movement skills were no fluke when he ran a sub-5 40-yard dash (4.91, second-best among linemen) on his way to earning an elite 9.65 RAS score (RAS courtesy of @mathbomb).
Odds are, there will be a better player at a more valuable position available at both the Bears second-round picks. In the event they do not draft a guard in round two, Pinter could still provide them with an upgrade at the position.
He may not be ready right away, but in a zone-heavy scheme, he has the potential to be an NFL starter.
Kevin Dotson (Louisiana-Lafayette)
Dotson is one of the most experienced players in this class with 52 starts, all at right guard, over the last four seasons. Not only was he durable he was also productive, earning an award all four years, and finishing with an All-American performance in 2019. He and Hunt, who appeared earlier in this list, formed one of the best offensive lines in the nation, finishing sixth in the FBS with 3,604 rushing yards and third in yards per rush at 6.28.
Pinter and Dotson could not be more different as prospects. Where Pinter wins with his athleticism, Dotson wins with brute strength. Dotson packs a lot of power in his 6-foot-4, 310-pound frame allowing him to consistently win at the point of attack. He has heavy hands, and when he is able to grapple a defender, they rarely are able to disengage.
His run blocking is his best asset at the moment, but he is far from a liability as a pass protector. Over the past two seasons, he has allowed only nine pressures (three in 2019) in over 800 pass blocking snaps.
He has better athleticism than you would think, but he will never be mistaken for an elite athlete. This will probably make him more appealing to a gap or power team rather than the Bears zone running scheme. But if he is available in the middle rounds, his talent might be too much to pass up for the Bears. Given his experience, he should be able to step in right away and be around an average starter at right guard.
Kyle Murphy (Rhode Island)
Murphy is a versatile prospect, making 36 starts over the last four seasons at four different offensive line positions. Coaching staffs will love to see that and it should be a big reason why he is drafted late on Day 3. In 2019, he made 11 starts, all at left tackle, and earned All-CAA honors and was invited to participate in the East-West Shrine Game.
Murphy’s best bet at finding success in the NFL will be on the interior where he can play in a phone booth to allow his athletic traits to play up. He looks the part with good size, length and athleticism, but his technique is wildly inconsistent and will need time to develop on a practice squad before he can be trusted.
Murphy definitely has some traits that will intrigue NFL coaches. But he needs some time in the weight room to improve his anchor and with an NFL coaching staff to improve his hand fighting. But the team that is patient could be rewarded with a future starter.
Dallas Warmack (Oregon)
It was reported a few weeks ago that the Bears met with Warmack before his pro day. I haven’t heard anything about him before that, so I immediately started digging into him as a prospect and I came away impressed.
Warmack was the right guard for an Oregon Ducks team that could see four players drafted this year and a fifth who is a potential first-round pick in 2021. Warmack is the least likely to get drafted out of the group, but if I were an NFL general manager I would definitely scoop him up on Day 3.
While watching Warmack, I was most impressed with his game against Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown. Brown is a projected top-10 pick and Warmack more than held his own. He got beat a few times as is expected of an offensive lineman going against a player of Brown’s caliber. But he won a few reps too and even managed to take Brown down to the ground a few times as you can see below.
Warmack is the brother of former first-round pick Chance Warmack. Dallas started his career at Alabama and graduated in three years before transferring to Oregon and started the last two years at right guard. It is rare to find a late-round starter, but given his pedigree and experience, Warmack could be that guy.
These are just some of my favorite players at the position. The Bears could certainly go with a lot of different options, so comment below with your favorite prospect you hope the Bears draft.