After ignoring the offensive line for many years and missing on multiple draft picks, the Bears unquestionably have made the unit a priority.
One of Marc Trestman’s first moves was to hire Aaron Kromer away from the Saints to be offensive coordinator and, as important, oversee the line. On the final day of the NFL draft Saturday, general manager Phil Emery added another offensive lineman, Jordan Mills, a tackle from Louisiana Tech in the fifth round, to go along with first-rounder Kyle Long on Thursday.
The team now has added six linemen since free agency opened, topped with the signing of left tackle Jermon Bushrod and Long. The Bears also signed guard Matt Slauson, guard/tackle Eben Britton and re-signed right tackle Jonathan Scott.
The moves put increasing pressure on 2011 first-round pick Gabe Carimi on the depth chart, as well as J’Marcus Webb, who will get the first shot to win the right tackle job in the final year of his contract. Bushrod and center Roberto Garza are the only two seemingly set in place.
The team closed out the draft selecting Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene in the fourth round with Georgia defensive end Cornelius Washington (sixth round) and Washington State wide receiver Marquess Wilson (seventh) rounding it out.
Washington is a physical specimen at 6 feet 4, 265 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds at the NFL scouting combine and some figured he could be drafted as high as the second round. Inconsistent game film and a 2011 DUI arrest hampered him.
Greene adds depth at linebacker, and Wilson set Washington State records in less than three seasons before quitting the team last fall when he accused Cougars coach Mike Leach of abuse after a team suspension.
The advancement of the offense in quarterback Jay Cutler’s fifth season rests in large part of the development of a revamped offensive line, a process Trestman refused to put a timetable on.
“Whether it’s four weeks, eight weeks, up until the season starts, whatever it takes, it’s going to be fluid until we figure it all out,” he said. “But we think we have the answers.”
Nothing is going to be handed to Long, but Trestman said the expectation is he will play this season. The Bears used the 20th pick on him believing he can claim a starting job quickly.
Mills didn’t lack for confidence. He will be begin at right tackle, where he made 29 starts at Louisiana Tech, but could be moved inside. He impressed the Bears at the Senior Bowl with his ability to bend.
“I know they just got the tackle from New Orleans, Bushrod, you know him on the left side, me on the right side, there’s going to be an offensive line to reckon with,” Mills said.