Bears on the prowl for a center

The Bears showed noticeable improvement on the offensive line last season when they were fortunate to start the same five players in all 16 games.

Sacks allowed, dropped from 44 to 30, and running back Matt Forte rushed for a career-best 1,339 yards. But the job of overhauling a position that was a major weakness for the previous two seasons isn't complete.

Center Robert Garza is 35 years old and was re-signed for what the team hopes will be one more solid season for the veteran line leader. Garza was still playing at a high level last season, his 13th in the NFL, but he can't go on forever. The Bears also need improved play at right tackle, where fifth-round rookie Jordan Mills survived - but barely.

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod, left guard Matt Slauson and right guard Kyle Long all are under contract for at least the next three years, and the hope is that Mills, who has three years left on his rookie contract, can improve with a full year of starting under his belt.

Veteran Eben Britton, who was also re-signed for one year, provides quality depth and versatility. Last season he contributed as a sixth offensive lineman in certain formations, and he has started games at tackle and guard.

Since Garza's successor doesn't appear to be on the roster, the Bears could use a mid-round selection on a young pivot.

It's possible that no centers will be drafted in the first two rounds. So the Bears could come away with one of the better ones in the class - Colorado State's Weston Richburg, USC's Marcus Martin, North Carolina's Russell Bodine - with their third-round pick.

But the talent drop-off after those three is precipitous.

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