Offensive tackle remains biggest question mark for Bears

  • Bears offensive tackle Teven Jenkins could earn a starting spot on the offensive line as a rookie.

    Bears offensive tackle Teven Jenkins could earn a starting spot on the offensive line as a rookie. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 7/15/2021 6:41 PM
We continue a 12-part series grading each Bears position group A to F, including pluses and minuses based on a bell curve comparing all 32 NFL teams.

All of our position group analyses have to assume reasonably good health, what potential answers/players are available along with the ceilings and floors on those potential answers.

We at least have that information on almost all the quarterbacks and cornerbacks on the roster.

 

It is quite possible the Bears could be improved, perhaps even very good at offensive tackle this year, but it is also true they may not have an NFL starting caliber tackle on the team, and two of the three top hopes (Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom) have never played a down in the league.

That makes this the toughest group on the roster to evaluate and grade.

Germain Ifedi

Ifedi is a great young man with the size and athletic ability to stand out at right tackle. He played well, if not spectacularly, when he was forced out to right tackle last season.

Offensive line coach Juan Castillo told us recently, "Works as hard as any guy I've been around. I don't want to make predictions, but I would not be surprised if this kid made the Pro Bowl next year."

The problem is Ifedi was drafted in the first round by Seattle to play guard, but was forced to spend most of his time at tackle due to injuries at the position. He played so poorly Seattle didn't even try to re-sign him at the expiration of his rookie deal.

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When the Bears signed Ifedi, we were told he's really a guard, and he played fairly well there, but he is now the hope again at tackle. His history says we should be concerned. Grade: B-

Teven Jenkins

It seems almost certain Jenkins is your Week 1 starter at left tackle. You have to love this kid as a prospect, but he definitely needs development. While his coaches say he can play either side, many analysts have pegged him as a much better prospect at, if not strictly, right tackle. But until we see him play ... Grade: Incomplete

Elijah Wilkinson

Originally signed as a 2017 undrafted rookie free agent out of Massachusetts by the Denver Broncos, Wilkinson made the team and even started 26 games over the 2018, '19 and '20 seasons. But all his starts were at right tackle or right guard. He's a big guy at 6-foot-5, 330, and built for the right side, but he's unlikely to beat out Ifedi. If he's your third tackle, you don't have a swing tackle/backup on the left behind the rookie. Grade: C

Larry Borom at Bears rookie camp in May in Lake Forest.
Larry Borom at Bears rookie camp in May in Lake Forest. - Associated Press
Larry Borom

Love this kid as a prospect and expect he will eventually become the starting right tackle. He's done a great job working on his body since leaving Missouri, and even though he was rated as strictly a right tackle, he looked athletic enough over the summer after significant weight loss and weight room work that he could actually be the second best option for the left side right now. Grade: Incomplete

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Lachavious Simmons

A seventh-round pick last year that made the team but never saw the field. He's built like a left tackle and may have the athletic ability to play it, but until he gets on the field ... Grade: Incomplete

Badara Traore, Dareuan Parker

Two more undrafted rookie free agents: Traore last year and now with a year on the practice squad, and Parker this year. Both are massive and primarily right tackle candidates. Grade: Incomplete

Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are making a huge bet and taking a big risk with this group. The upside is real, but the downside is more obvious.

The Bears will almost certainly keep Ifedi, Wilkinson and the two rookies. Alex Bars can be tried outside, too.

If Castillo is right and Ifedi is finally ready to bloom and not lead the league's offensive linemen in penalties again, and Jenkins is better prepared than most draft analysts predicted, this could be the Bears best offensive line since 2006. But if Ifedi just isn't an NFL tackle and Jenkins makes all the rookie mistakes we'd normally expect, this could be a disaster. As these guys go so might the offense. Overall Grade: C

• Twitter: @Hub_Arkush

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