The Bears need to protect Quarterback Justin Fields to help allow him to flourish as a passer. The group he has up there right now simply isn’t good enough. So, how do they turn this unit around?
To start with, they have a couple of guys they’ll keep around. Left Tackle Braxton Jones has earned another year and another opportunity to start. He’s handled the transition to the NFL quite well. Right Guard Teven Jenkins had his breakout year all while playing a brand new position. Moving forward, Jenkins will be one of the staples on this offensive line.
I expect Ryan Poles to move off Left Guard Cody Whitehair, the only mainstay on the OL from the Ryan Pace years. The Bears save money and get younger with this move.
The new starters added are listed below, if this projection comes true.
LG: Elgton Jenkins – 4 years $78 million
This is a match made in heaven. Elgton Jenkins is currently on the Green Bay Packers and is widely considered to be the most versatile offensive lineman in the NFL, as he has experience at all 5 positions on the line. Jenkins is also a scheme fit, so he knows the offense very well. Changing teams is usually hard due to having to learn a new scheme. So eliminating that element and making him one of the highest paid Guards in football is a good way to persuade him and get him to sign in Chicago.
Center: Sedrick Van Pran- 4th round Draft Choice
Van Pran is one of the better Centers in college football coming from Georgia, and stealing a smart player from one of the best college programs in America is never a bad idea. Van Pran offers an element of toughness, intelligence, and good blocking in the pass game as well as the run game. Adding a high-ceiling player on a cheaper deal is a good way to improve the line immediately and moving forward. Some other Center options in the draft are Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz and Notre Dame’s Jarrett Patterson.
Right Tackle: Jack Conklin- 4 years $58 million
Jack Conklin is a player I wanted the Bears to sign a few offseasons ago. Conklin is expected to be available again after proving himself as one of the best Right Tackles in the game in his time with Cleveland. Conklin is a very smart player who plays with physicality and is sound technically. The Right Tackle is the Bears’ biggest position of question. Larry Borom has been a disappointment this year, Riley Rieff is on a 1 year deal and is a veteran, and Alex Leatherwood is not someone you can trust to start. Conklin would be a great addition, probably the best possible addition at Right Tackle.
Some possible additions through the draft at Offensive Tackle are Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State’s Dawand Jones, and Georgia’s Broderick Jones. The draft class is relatively weak at the Guard spots, which is why I think they should attack the Left Guard spot in free agency if Poles decides to move off Cody Whitehair.