Because of the Bears’ unexpected, late-season revival, our focus has shifted away from the 2021 NFL Draft and towards the team’s chances of playing meaningful football in January. It’s a fun twist, to be sure. But it doesn’t mean all of my focus is turning away from the draft.
No matter how this season finishes, changes on the offensive line are inevitable. Bobby Massie is 31 and has had two injury shortened seasons. Tack on the possibility of creating $5.4 million in cap space by cutting Massie in the upcoming offseason, and one could envision how the Bears could be in the market for another tackle. Lump in the potential to save $6.2 million in cap space by parting ways with left tackle Charles Leno Jr., and I suppose it’s easy to craft an argument that Chicago could use next offseason to re-vamp the entire line.
In the end, I’ll always have one eye on the future. Especially when two high-profile players at a future position of need declare for the draft.
Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
— Christian Darrisaw (@Bigdawgchris1) December 18, 2020
Darrisaw is one of the most highly touted offensive line prospects in a draft that is brimming with early round talent. The Virginia Tech product is Mel Kiper Jr.’s 18th ranked overall prospect and second best offensive tackle. That’s quite the compliment for the 6-5, 314-pound Hokies star. As is PFF’s placement of Darrisaw on the site’s All-American team.
A three-year starter at Virginia Tech, Darrisaw could be available should the Bears go on the clock with a selection in the middle of the first round. And considering their needs along the offensive line, plucking a top-tier prospect who could conceivably start immediately would be advisable.
Larry Borom, Missouri
Borom, who checks in at 6-6 and 332 pounds, is one of those college linemen who improved each season. He was a two-star prep recruit out of Michigan, but leaves Missouri as an accomplished lineman. Pro Football Focus grades Borom as the SEC’s second-highest-graded offensive tackle. Borom’s high marks are highlighted by a conference-best 84.5 pass-blocking grade. When you give up just one sack and just four pressures on 324 pass-blocking plays against SEC foes, you know you’re doing something right.
Unlike Darrisaw, Borom doesn’t project to be an early pick. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler projects Borom to by a Day 3 pick. In other words, Borom could be the type of late-round steal the Bears could target. Chicago’s front office has done well targeting Day 3 prospects who turn out to be diamonds in the rough. Remember, drafts in 2015 (Adrian Amos), 2016 (Nick Kwiatkoski, Jordan Howard), 2017 (Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen), 2018 (Bilal Nichols), and 2020 (Darnell Mooney) produced players who started as rookies. And in the cases of Amos, Kwiatkoski, Howard, Jackson, Cohen, and Nichols, each of those players has garnered extensive playing time in the years that followed. Moreover, Amos, Howard, and Jackson are examples of late-round finds who played collegiately at power conference schools.
Consider all this to be something worth keeping in mind as we start putting together prospect watch lists.