Muller: Bears Need To Go O-Line With 1st Round Pick

By Shawn Muller–

Halas Hall needs a “help wanted” sign hanging from the windows starting this week and up to the 2011 NFL Draft in April.

The sign should read: “Now hiring offensive linemen who are prone to keeping a quarterback from lying on his backside more often than not, and possess the ability to open up running lanes for the running backs. Only serious candidates need apply.”

It is no secret that the offensive line is the biggest area of need for Chicago heading into the draft.

The Bears offensive line was…um…not very good this season (I am trying to put it nicely). The unit allowed an NFL-worst 58 sacks on the year, good for an average of over 3 sacks per game! Ouch! Quarterback Jay Cutler got plenty of quality face-time with his opposition via the sack due to this lack of pass protection. If people don’t want him missing any more time due to injury (yeah, I went there), the line play needs to be upgraded.

Everything on the offensive side of the ball starts upfront with the o-line. They are the ones who are responsible for opening up running lanes for the backs, and protecting the quarterback in the passing game. Not rocket science by any means, I know. The Bears ranked 30th in total offense on the year, averaging just 289.4 yards per game, ahead of only the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers. That is it! The team was 28th in the league in passing and 22nd in rushing. Putting the offensive numbers into perspective, it is astounding that Chicago had as good of a year as they did (thanks defense).

Since it is never to early to get an NFL fix, here are the two offensive linemen I believe should be at the top of the Bears wish list come April. While it is possible neither of these two players will be available when the Bears make their selection, it is not out of the realm of possibility to see both still on the board. The NFL Draft is a crazy animal sometimes…remember Aaron Rodgers? Sorry about that!

1. OT Gabe Carimi, 6’7’’ 327 lbs : Wisconsin

The Outland Trophy winner from the University of Wisconsin is an absolute monster in the trenches. He is a strong run blocker, and an even better pass blocker. With Jay Cutler constantly facing pressure in the passing game, Carimi is everything the Bears are lacking upfront. When you combine his speed and quickness to his prototypical size for a left tackle, Carimi is exactly the type of offensive lineman the Bears have been lacking and desperately need for some time now.

2. OT Nate Solder, 6’9’’ 315 lbs : Colorado

A First Team All-American in 2010, Solder. The reason I like this kid so much is simple: pass protection. His height and quickness is built for the left tackle position. The fact that he played TE/DE/LB in high school shows just how athletic this guy is. Many pro scouts think that he has the ability to gain another 15-20 lbs and not lose any of his quickness? Excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my keyboard.

Others to keep an eye on:

– OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College

– OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State

– OT Tyron Smith, USC

– OG Mike Pouncey, Florida

While I believe the offensive line should be addressed with the first round pick, there are some Bears fans out there that are clamoring for a top-end wide receiver, giving Cutler the game-changing type of threat the receiving corps lacks right now. The problem is, outside of Georgia’s A.J. Green and Alabama’s Julio Jones, the wide receiver class is average compared to years past. Because of this fact regarding the wide receiver position, I don’t believe you draft one in the first round…especially with the crop of receivers entering the draft in 2012.

With that being said, I leave the Bears 2011 first round draft pick in your hands…how do you proceed?

Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.

steve muller Muller: Bears Need To Go O Line With 1st Round Pick

Shawn Muller

Shawn Muller has lived in Chicago for 7 years. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and just recently received his certificate in radio broadcasting in October of 2010. Sports have always been a passion of Shawn’s. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, “Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” at

  • Jake from da burbs

    I’m sorry but is this really breaking news?

    From a pure need perspective, I would say the Bears should invest the first 3 draft picks on Offensive Linemen. The O-Line needs a complete overhaul. Then again we have needs at WR, DLine and DB’s too.

    That being said, I’m also a believer in conditionally taking the best player available. I’m not saying you always take the player highest rated on your board but rather if a guy on your draft board is still available and clearly an impact and value pick, then you select that guy even if it doesn’t meet an immediate need. However, if there is a group of players graded about the same towards the top of your draft board, you pick the guy that fills the biggest need. I suspect this is probably a standard strategy..

    • Shawn Muller

      Not meant to be breaking news…just a chance for people to have fun looking ahead to the draft. Have to get your Bears fix wherever you can, right?? lol!

      Thanks for reading.

  • Jay

    Anything but an OL in 1st round would be grounds for firing Angelo. Pay what you have to and get Sidney Rice, big target that Cutler needs badly. Get younger at LB and of course Angelo is sure to draft at least two DL.

  • Shawn Muller

    That is well put Jay. You just have to go o-line in the 1st rd. Rice would be a better option than taking a chance on a wr with the second pick. And you are correct….Angelo should be let go if he doesn’t follow suit…but…this is Angelo we are talking about…

  • John Hatelak

    I kinda disagree with this. I think your evaluation on Carimi is way off. He’s more of a Guard. He’s got that nasty to him I like, but he’s kind of an Oaf. His footwork is rough, and he’ll be eaten up by the top edge rushers in the NFL. Especially against 3-4 backers. That happens to be our top divisional rivals strength. Omiyale is a much better athlete than Carimi, but he doesn’t have that nasty in him to be a starter IMO. I guess it must be your bias to your Alma-mater. But getting a nice G wouldn’t be awful. I like the idea of getting Light or of getting Mankins inside. both are Free Agents. Of course that depends on the whole CBA situation. Solder is an interesting prospect, but the guys rated below both these guys aren’t really all that far away from them. I think you can get better value in this draft at O-line lower. Like 3rd or under. I don’t see any Lineman coming in and being pro bowl caliber. All will have to develop into pro bowlers I feel.

  • Shawn Muller

    Ha! No, John…I am not being biased toward my Alma-Mater (though it is tough sometimes). I am saying Carimi because he has the mean streak the Bears line lacks right now. During B1G Ten play, Carimi completely shut down Cameron Heyward and Adrian Claybourn. He is a lot quicker than people realize. Also, you can’t really go wrong drafting a Wisconsin lineman, can you? Carimi had the small task of replacing Joe Thomas at UW, and we all know, JT is probably the best OT in the NFL right now. GC not only held his own in doing so, but also won the Outland Trophy too, making it back-to-back UW Senior LT’s to do so.

    This kid is going to be special on the next level, and any team that is fortunate to draft him, is going to get a good one.

    No homerism there at all, huh?? Haha!

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  • Michael Che

    Smith: We need a better O-Line.
    Angelo: Umm, okay. But we will have to sell Cutler.
    Smith: Wha?
    Angelo: We still have Collins, right?
    Smith: (facepalms)
    Angelo: Well, let’s pay them new guys from your own salary. Deal?
    Smith: (bangs his head against the wall)
    McAulay: Personal foul, five yards, automatic first down.
    The wall: (goes down obediently, revealing Goodell)
    Goodell, after he’s done coughing: And don’t forget, two more games.
    Smith, Angelo: (look murder)
    Papa Bear’s Coat: I’m sick. Somebody please put me back in the closet.

    Sorry Shawn, just kidding. Sort of. I mean, your reasoning seems to be too perfect for the current, er, situation. As Sun 23 has demonstrated only too clearly, common sense doesn’t always apply here.

    • Shawn Muller

      Lol! That was pretty good, Michael! Well played.

  • Starman

    The only thing I would add, is that we should trade next years 1st and 2nd round pick to trade up to get Julio Jones this year. Then pick Nate Solder with the 29th pick in the first round. Pick another O-lineman in the 2nd round and then a DB in the 3rd.

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