Chicago’s lack of offensive line depth was problematic last season. But in classic Ryan Pace form, he is addressing it this offseason in an attempt to avoid making the same mistake twice.
Better late than never, right?
Alright, it’s time to get to know a new guy.
Player, Age (in 2021), Position
Elijah Wilkinson, 26, guard/tackle
Contract: 1 year, $1.1275 million ($987.5K cap hit)
Contract details via OverTheCap.com
6-6, 329 pounds
Note: We’ve seen varying heights on Wilkinson. The Bears list him at 6-4, while the NFL’s official page has him down for 6-6. We’ll go with the league’s standard until we’re told otherwise.
2020 stats: 9 games (7 starts), 504 snaps, 1 penalty, 2 sacks allowed
Career stats: 45 games (26 starts), 1,859 offensive snaps, 10 penalties, 16 sacks allowed
PFF grades: 52.4 (2020), 59.6 (2019), 65.5 (2018), 58.8 (2017)
Alright, So The New Guy is Something of a Work in Progress
T.J. Watt was great against the Broncos. Elijah Wilkinson could not stop him. Watt's explosiveness and flexibility all were on display throughout the game. Blows right by Wilkinson here as he can not get enough depth in his set. pic.twitter.com/APCILdBYTD
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) September 22, 2020
— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) September 24, 2019
In case it wasn’t made clear with the videos I’m sharing above, allow me to make it clear that Wilkinson shouldn’t be seen as a plug-and-play starter. So let’s lay that groundwork while we have a moment. Now that we’re clear, let’s talk about what Wilkinson is (or at least, should be) for the 2021 Bears.
Wilkinson is functional depth at multiple offensive line positions. With experience at right tackle at right guard, the Bears should feel more comfortable with Wilkinson in a swing role than they were last summer with the camp bodies being who they were. Chicago really went into the 2020 campaign with two undrafted free agents with no NFL experience, a seventh-round rookie, a failed Packers high-round pick, and a converted nose tackle as its offensive line depth in 2020. It still blows my mind thinking about it to this day.
So, at minimum, the Bears are bringing in a player with a fair amount of starting experience who could be plugged into the lineup if a worst-case scenario presents itself. That’s not inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. No, Wilkinson won’t make us forget about Chicago’s pursuit of Trent Williams. But the singing is worth a tipping your cap to a front office that is trying to avoid making the same mistake twice when it comes to approaching depth.