At this time last year, Notre Dame offensive linemen were all the rage.
Guard Quenton Nelson was viewed as a generational offensive line prospect despite being projected to be an interior lineman. And his Fighting Irish teammate, Mike McGlinchey, was no slouch either. Both players went in the top-10 of the 2018 NFL Draft, which had to be a moment of pride for Bears Offensive Line Coach Harry Hiestand, who instructed both players in South Bend the year prior.
Indeed, Hiestand has done great work with professional and collegiate offensive linemen over the years, so it makes sense that the Bears would check in on one of his draft-eligible pupils during Combine Week in Indianapolis.
Notre Dame lineman Alex Bars met with the Bears on Wednesday night. He raved about Harry Hiestand’s impact on his career: “He’s a phenomenal coach. To be able to play for him would be an amazing opportunity.”
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) February 28, 2019
Chris Emma of 670 The Score tweets the Bears met with Notre Dame lineman Alex Bars earlier in the week. Bars “raved” about Hiestand and what he did for his development, adding that he would welcome the opportunity to play for him again. And why not!? Anyone who learns from the best is going to want to continue that process if the opportunity presents itself. Knowledge is power, after all.
Bars has starting experience at guard and tackle, was on the Outland Trophy Watch List and the Sporting News listed him as a preseason first-team All-American in 2018. The Outland is given to college football’s best lineman and notable winners include Brandon Scherff (Iowa, 2014), Joe Thomas (Wisconsin, 2006), Orlando Pace (Ohio State, 1996), and Will Shields (Nebraska, 1992). Unfortunately, Bars’ 2018 season was cut short when he suffered ACL and MCL injuries in his left knee during the team’s early-season win against Stanford.
WalterFootball.com ranks Bars as the site’s No. 14 guard prospect and projects him to go between the fourth and sixth rounds. And while we’ll never know where he would check in had he put together a healthy 2018, Bars appears to present a potential buy-low opportunity for a team like the Bears.
At minimum, Bars checks some worthwhile boxes. He is an experienced college offensive lineman with starting experience at multiple positions, has prospect pedigree, and a prior relationship with the man who would be his position coach (again) at the NFL level. And because the Bears don’t need to draft a starter on the line, drafting for depth purposes with the idea of slow-playing that player’s development for a starting role down the line seems like would be a wise investment.