The temptation is clearly there for the Chicago Bears. At pick number 20 they don't have a great shot at a high profile left tackle without trading up. However, is there a better strategy in targeting Chance Warmack and settling for Kyle Long?
Aaron Kromer can protect Jay Cutler with any talented lineman
Chicago can count itself rich in at least one thing on offense now. They have not one but three coaches on their staff with a proven background in offensive line coaching. Head coach Marc Trestman did it as a coordinator. His right hand man in Canada, Pat Meyer, helped turn a group that gave up 68 sacks in 2007 into a group that gave up 22 in 2008 is assistant offensive line coach. The biggest addition though is new offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Among the three he is the most high profile. He comes from the staff of Sean Payton, one of the best collections of offensive minds in the NFL. Fans know him recently for having to take over head coaching duties because of the bounty suspensions but players know him better as one of the best offensive line teachers in football. During his time with the Saints, Kromer developed five different linemen into Pro Bowlers. In 2011 and 2012 the team allowed just 50 sacks combined. That says a lot, but for the Bears and Jay Cutler it says they can go into the offseason much more confident than before.
Warmack could offer more value from where Bears are in NFL draft
Analysts and fans alike seem united in the belief Chicago will spend their first draft pick on an offensive tackle. That is why names like Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson floats around the news. Unfortunately it isn't that easy when it comes to the draft. Getting a quality tackle late in the first round is a long shot since teams normally drafting higher have big offensive line needs too. On the other hand, guards tend to go at 20 or later all the time. David DeCastro was the first guard taken last year and he didn't go until the Steelers at the 24th pick. That is why the Bears must keep a close eye on Chance Warmack. Barring a setback he is the clear cut best guard in the 2013 draft class with a proven background at Alabama. Adding him would strengthen an area the team has struggled to solidify. That just leave the tackles. While Fisher and Johnson will have long since gone, this is where having men like Kromer become an advantage. Some buzz has picked up lately on young Kyle Long out of Oregon. A brother to Pro Bowl defensive end Chris Long and son to Hall of Famer Howie Long, he overcame early struggles and worked his way up from junior college to help Oregon to another big bowl victory. Though the skills are still raw, his brother and father both agree Kyle has the most natural athletic talent of any of them.
Part of the NFL draft is about accepting the talent that is there and not reaching. The Chicago Bears and their offensive line is better served if they take Chance Warmack first if he grades better than any other lineman on the board. A pedigree like Kyle Long is plenty consolation. Jay Cutler and Aaron Kromer wouldn't complain.
Photo Credit - Beyond the Combine