Getting to Know the 2018 Chicago Bears: Interior Offensive Linemen
The Chicago Bears’ first training camp practice open to the public arrives today and we’ll be there, literally. With training camp underway and the team’s August 2 debut at the Hall of Fame Game around the corner, let’s take a look at who’s on the team right now.
Previous: Quarterbacks, Running backs, Wide receivers, Tight ends, Offensive tackles.
The Starters: Kyle Long (73.0 grade from Pro Football Focus), Cody Whitehair (74.2), James Daniels (89.0 grade in college as a center)
The Reserves: Earl Watford, Jeremi Hall, Will Pericak, Jordan Morgan, Eric Kush, Brandon Greene, Rashaad Coward, Hroniss Grasu.
Potential Training Camp Star: An interesting nugget about reserve lineman Eric Kush is that he and Matt Nagy crossed paths in Kansas City in 2013 and 2014 when he was a backup and Nagy was coaching Chiefs quarterbacks. If something were to happen to James Daniels, I can see Kush stepping in at left guard and providing an admirable effort in his place. Kush would have been the Bears’ No. 1 option at backup guard last year, but his season came to an untimely end because of a hamstring injury. If he can get through camp healthy this summer, he could assume that position or play himself into a bigger role.
We Really Like: The competition brewing among the younger players is something worth watching as this summer progresses. Jordan Morgan was a late draft pick in 2017, while Brandon Greene and Rashaad Coward were undrafted free agents who made their way onto the 53-man roster at some point late last season. Oh, and did we mention that Coward was a nose tackle last year and that he is making the switch to the other side of the line this year? That’s kinda neat. It’s been a while since someone has channeled their inner James “Big Cat” Williams around here.
We Might Be Worried About: Hroniss Grasu’s future with the team. Grasu was the first lineman chosen in the Ryan Pace era back in 2015, but the third-round pick (71st overall) hasn’t really panned out. As things get started this summer, Grasu has Cody Whitehair and James Daniels ahead of him on the center depth chart, which could prove to be quite a set of hurdles to overcome. The Bears experimented with Grasu at other spots on the line last summer, but didn’t do so in a game of consequence. If Grasu can’t expand his skill set, he might not be long for this team.
2018 Forecast: This group is talented, but comes with a bunch of “ifs” that won’t be answered until games get underway. We’ll forget about the Bears parting ways with Josh Sitton “if” Daniels steps in as a rookie and holds it down at left guard. “If” Kyle Long is healthy, then the right side of the line will be stronger than it was last year and Jordan Howard can run to that side of the field confidently. We’ll feel a whole lot better about this group’s trajectory “if” Cody Whitehair proves the backward steps he took last year were because he had too much on his plate while being rotated at three different positions. “If” these “ifs” come with satisfactory answers, then the Bears’ offense will make some positive gains.