Chicago Bears Offensive Line Additions

Last season, the Chicago Bears had one of the worst offensive lines in the league. They led the league in sacks given up and faced constant inconsistency caused by injury and simply bad play. Those are the last two things you want to hear when you have a promising rookie quarterback, and in this case, that is exactly what the Bears have. Justin Fields is a quarterback who specializes in the deep ball and his ability to run, but with such a bad offensive line he will not get a chance to show off what he can really do. 

2021 NFL Draft 
To look at how this Bears offensive line will do this season, you should start with the teams 2021 draft. Chicago selected tackle Teven Jenkins in the second round who we then learned was suffering from a back injury, which sidelined him for all but two games from the 2021 campaign. Despite this, many still have high hopes for him. His future with the Bears may be unsure with recent reports stating he was on the trading block, but with all the potential Jenkins has, the Bears have the chance for a solid offensive line unit if he can make his way on the field. The second player the Bears selected was tackle Larry Borom, who they took in round five. Borom only appeared in 10 games last season and allowed just four sacks with five penalties with a promising rookie PFF grade of 61.4. I expect Borom to take a leap this season and be a very solid piece for the Bears this season, with the potential to be a starter. 

2022 NFL Draft 
The Bears selected four offensive linemen, all of which they took on the third day of the draft. Their first selection came at pick number 168 with tackle Braxton Jones from Southern Utah. Jones has tremendous length with arms that are almost three feet long to go with an excellent PFF grade of 93.9. His strength lies in his run blocking, which you will see is a recurring theme. The second picked was Zachary Thomas at pick 186. Thomas is another flexibility pickup for the Bears, as he has played every single line position at some point in his career. His strengths are in his run game ability, and he was given a PFF grade of 87.2 at San Diego State. Line pick number three came at pick 207, with center Doug Kramer from Illinois. Kramer is smaller compared to most centers, but also specializes in run blocking, and was quoted as “the best leader on the team” by Bears scout Jeff Shiver. Doug also had an overall PFF grade of 75.4 during his time in college. 

The final pick was tackle Ja’Tyre Carter at number 226. Carter was another four year college player drafted by the Bears and is considered a high upside pick. Carter had a 79.1 PFF grade during his time at Southern University. 

Recent Signings 
The biggest changes for the line have been their recent signings however, with the three signings of guard Michael Schofield, (a Chicago native) offensive tackle Riley Reiff, and former Packers center Lucas Patrick. Last season, Schofield was ranked 9th best among all guards in pass protection and offered a solid PFF grade of 68. He also offers the Bears plenty of versatility as he can play every line position besides Center. He is definitely a good signing for the Bears this season, and someone I am excited to see play.

Then there is Riley Reiff, who only allowed four sacks and posted a 67.3 PFF grade last season. Reiff has experience at both left and right tackle, and is a favorite to win a starting role this season. 

Sadly, Lucas Patrick is likely out for a considerable time, as just a few days ago we learned he will be undergoing surgery on his hand and there is no timetable for his return. When healthy, he has only allowed one sack with five penalties, and has a PFF grade of 57.2. 

Returning Players (Most notable) 
The best guard Chicago has to offer, Cody Whitehair, will be returning again this year despite having his worst season last year with a PFF grade of just 66.2. Despite his lackluster season, Whitehair is a guaranteed starter for the Bears and is not someone who should be seen as a liability on the line. Whitehair is more than capable of having a 70 or even 80 plus PFF grade during any season and could lead this teams line during any given game. He is reliable and consistently solid, something the Bears should be grateful to have. 

An interesting tackle to keep an eye on during the season is tackle Julie’n Davenport. This year Davenport will be reuniting with his former coach Matt Eberflus, which means we could see him getting some time at the tackle position. While Davenport has been inconsistent in terms of efficiency, he has a 71 PFF grade under his belt in 2020 and could bounce back from a below average 2021 season with the right conditions. I would not be surprised to see him fighting for some minutes at tackle early this year. 

Sam Mustipher is the potential starting center for the Bears once again this season, but I doubt most fans would be happy to hear that. Mustipher was one of the lowest ranked centers in the league and had a considerably bad 51 grade from PFF. 

My Predictions for 2022
Short answer, they will be considerably better. On paper, the Bears made improvements at each position this year with free agency and seek to get even better with sophomore campaigns from Larry Borom and hopefully Teven Jenkins. Michael Schofield and Riley Reiff are both very solid 

pickups to provide consistent solid play for Fields to benefit from, with depth coming from their high upside draft picks who all got first team reps during training camp. 

All of these additions feel even better when you take into account the Bears got one of the best offensive line coaches this offseason with Chris Morgan. Morgan has coached in two super bowls in his 13 seasons as an NFL coach, and has created solid units with every new team he has coached. 

The longer answer is that Bears fans should be patient. At any point the line can be struck with devastating injuries, and even with a great offensive line coach, issues can still arise. On top of that the Bears are already seeing the same inconsistency they suffered from last season, with 

question marks for Lucas Patrick and Teven Jenkins. With the loss of Lucas Patrick the Bears could see an issue at the center position, as last year Sam Mustipher (the starting center) was considerably below average and has been playing other positions during training camp this year. This could leave the starting position open for rookie Doug Kramer to fill if the Bears don’t find a replacement. 

Without a considerable amount of injuries though, I guarantee this line will be much improved and at least a top 20 unit in the upcoming season.

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