Bears offensive lineman Arlington Hambright has had quite the journey to become the 226th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Hambright started his first two seasons of his college career at Garden City Community College in Kansas, where he won a JUCO national championship and at times played on the defensive line. Then he transferred to Oklahoma State, redshirting his first season and only starting the first five games the following year due to an ankle injury in 2018. His last move came when he transferred to Colorado as a grad student and there Hambright started all 12 games at left tackle.
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive tackle has done plenty of moving around the past few years. And as a member of the Chicago Bears, he will be moving again, and it won’t just be geographically to his new team but also to a new position.
“When I think of him [Hambright], his athleticism jumps off on the tape right away,” general manager Ryan Pace told reporters during a teleconference. “We think he has the body style that can translate to playing guard.”
In head coach Matt Nagy’s offense, the Bears like to utilize a lot of zone-based run schemes, which will require the linemen to move laterally, adjust in space and to quickly identify the defender to block at the second level.
Chris Kapilovic, Hambright’s former offensive line coach at Colorado, said he will have to adjust from “being on an island” in pass sets as a tackle to “being in a box where everything is on you quicker” as a guard.
Even though Hambright will have to adapt to his new position, Kapilovic still believes his former player will make a smooth transition because he is familiar with zone run schemes and has the attributes to play guard.
“We were a big zone team ourselves, so that will be great for him,” Kapilovic said. “His athleticism is the thing that stands out. I’ve coached for a long time, but he is as athletic as an offensive lineman there is. When you start talking about outside zone, wide zone schemes where you’re asking these guys to be athletic and move in space and reach guys, that is something he can really excel at.”
On this play against Oregon in 2019, Hambright displays his ability to move in space while also avoiding the collision with his left guard, and this allows Hambright to be a lead block for his running back, who picks up a first down.
Moving from tackle to guard also means Hambright has to be more physical in the run game. He will go from facing defensive ends and outside linebackers to being head up with defensive tackles and nose guards.
Kapilovic is confident, though, that Hambright can handle the adjustment because of his mindset and his overall strength.
“He plays with a little bit of an edge and doesn’t back down from anybody,” Kapilovic said. “He’s got some really good pop. What I mean by that is you see some guys that can snap their hips and really just shock people when they put their hands on them. He shows that ability at times of just having some really good strength that goes with that athleticism. All those things are great attributes.”
In the first game of the 2019 season against Colorado State, Hambright displays the edge that he plays with. Hambright takes on the defensive end and pushes him into the defense tackle, which knocks both players to the ground, but Hambright stays on his feet and continues to push the pile forward.
Hambright has the physical tools and athleticism to potentially develop into a solid guard, and Kapilovic knows he can “continue to improve” because he is still “kind of new to the O-line world.”
But Hambright is still a seventh-round draft pick and will most likely just be competing for a spot on the practice squad. Still, he can take pride in his journey and where it has landed him — as an offensive lineman in the NFL, and that is an accomplishment in itself.
“He appreciates being drafted,” Kapilovic said. “I believe he is going to do everything to be successful.”