Is there a Hole at the Guard Position?
Going into the 2011 NFL Draft the Bears had several key needs. They needed an offensive tackle and they got one. They also got a defensive tackle. But they also needed an offensive guard and they failed to take care of that need in the draft.
Why is the offensive guard position such a need? Right now, the Bears starters at the guard position to end the season include converted tackle Chris Williams and the continually aging Roberto Garza. Other players that they have projected at the guard position (that are currently on the roster) include Edwin Williams (who is also listed as a center), Johan Asiata, Lance Louis and Herman Johnson.
Edwin Williams spent some time at the guard position last season and has some experience. Lance Louis had a short stint as a starter as well so there is some starting experience on the roster but the Bears are still seriously short on talent at the guard position.
Heading into the 2011 season the Bears will have to rely on Garza to play one of the guard spots. Right now there is no one else on the roster to replace him effectively and even though he’s starting to age and become less effective the Bears will still use him and they have to use him.
What the Bears do with Chris Williams is a whole other story. Right now the rumors have him returning to the guard position next season or quite possibly moving into the center position to eventually take over for the soon to be retiring Olin Kreutz.
The backups at the guard position have some talent but perhaps not enough to play the position as a starter on a regular basis. Johnson is a massive player and if he could improve his footwork and technique he would be impossible to get through on the pass rush and could be a huge asset in run blocking. But its doubtful Johnson will ever develop into a starter.
The same can be said for Asiata although he has developed well. The Bears may choose to keep him as a backup depending on how things shake out with the starters.
Another possibility is that if the Bears move offensive tackles Gabe Carimi or J’Marcus Webb to the left side, last year’s starter on the left side, Frank Omiyale could end up starting at one of the guard spots. He is much better suited for the guard position than he is at tackle and could take over for Garza.
With that, Garza could move to the center position (a position that he has played before) just in case the Bears don’t get Kreutz resigned.
So perhaps the guard position isn’t as weak as we first thought but it could use an upgrade. With free agency limited however it’s highly unlikely that the Bears aren’t going to find someone before the start of the 2011 season.
If there is going to be a hole in the Bears offensive line next season it’s going to be at the guard position.