I’ll own up to be being bummed about the Bears missing out on signing Trent Williams.
Even as he enters his age 33 season, Williams is a premier left tackle. His résumé is one that should inspire a league full of general managers to open up the vaults and toss copious amounts of cash in Williams’ general direction in order to lure him onto their respective teams. The 49ers retained Williams with a mega-deal that ESPN reports makes him the highest-paid offensive lineman in league history.
As for the Bears, they turn to Charles Leno Jr. as their returning left tackle. But before you roll your eyes and snicker, consider this:
Run block win rate (x) by pass block win rate (y) for left tackles.
Up and right is good. pic.twitter.com/OdCqWS66HI
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) March 12, 2021
For those unsure how to read the chart above, it’s a simple bottom line: Charles Leno Jr. is in good company when it comes to blocking.
On the horizontal x-axis, we see that Leno performed well as a run blocker. And on the vertical y-axis, there’s Leno showing up as being solid in pass protection. We don’t need to dive deep into the blocking metrics here. Simply put: A basic understanding of the coordinate system on the graph above speaks volumes about Leno’s performance. No, he’s not on Trent Williams’ level. But this snapshot provides us with perspective regarding how Leno played and where he ranks among his contemporaries.
But here’s the kicker: Leno is entering the final year of his contract. And seeing that Chicago showed interest in Williams, I can’t help but interpret it as a sign that Leno’s time could be drawing to an end. Moreover, that Chicago had a full-court press on for Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater’s pro day provides additional evidence that the Bears could pivot at the position. This team has already moved on from Bobby Massie. For the record, I would advise against putting together a line with two brand new tackles. However, I wonder if it’s under consideration. Has anyone asked Andy Dalton how he feels about this? After all, he’ll be the one dropping back in the pocket.
The good news is that this Draft class appears loaded with tackle prospects who could start immediately. And because the Bears haven’t dealt their first-round pick to this point, I’m looking forward to diving into who is available. But I couldn’t do so without acknowledging that Charles Leno Jr. has been solid at the position. And I’d hate to not put some respect on his name when he truly deserves it.