Bears' O-line strong as long as guards are healthy

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
 
 
Updated 4/17/2017 6:41 PM

The Bears have one of the strongest interior offensive lines in the NFL.

That is, if Pro Bowl guards Kyle Long (ankle, shoulder) and Josh Sitton (ankle) are back at full strength. With those two bracketing all-rookie center Cody Whitehair, the Bears have the foundation for an excellent O-line moving forward.

 

Even with Long playing just eight games in 2016 and Sitton limited to 12 starts, the Bears were No. 6 in the NFL in average gain per rush and No. 8 in sack percentage allowed.

Long and Sitton are three-time Pro Bowl picks. Second-round pick Whitehair was a pleasant surprise as a 16-game starter at center, a position he never played at Kansas State, although he started games at every other O-line position.

The Bears' offensive line is not as impressive on the outside. But left tackle Charles Leno and right tackle Bobby Massie are better than some critics believe. Leno, a seventh-round pick in 2014, has started 29 straight games since replacing Jermon Bushrod early in 2015. Five-year veteran Massie got off to a poor start last season, his first with the Bears, but he played much better as the season progressed.

Massie still struggles in pass protection, but he is a powerful road-grader in the run game.

The Bears could seek to upgrade at either tackle spot in the draft, but this year's crop of blockers is average at best. If the incumbents all stay healthy in 2017, offensive line could be an area of strength for the Bears.

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The problem is that there isn't much promising depth on the roster with the exception of Eric Kush and possibly Hroniss Grasu.

Kush started four games at left guard last season when Sitton was injured, and he was re-signed in February for two years.

Grasu, a 2015 third-round pick from Oregon, started eight games as a rookie but suffered a season-ending torn ACL last preseason. He has a lengthy injury history and is a center only at this point.

Offensive linemen drafted by the Bears in the last 10 years

Year Rd. Pos. Player School

2016 2 G-C Cody Whitehair Kansas State

2015 3 C Hroniss Grasu Oregon

6 T Tayo Fabuluje TCU

2014 7 T Charles Leno Boise State

2013 1 G Kyle Long Oregon

5 T Jordan Mills Louisiana Tech

2011 1 T Gabe Carimi Wisconsin

2010 7 T J'Marcus Webb West Texas A&M

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

2009 7 G Lance Louis San Diego State

2008 1 T Chris Williams Vanderbilt

7b G Chester Adams Georgia

7d T Kirk Barton Ohio State

2007 4 G Josh Beekman Boston College

7 T Aaron Brant Iowa State

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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