Between the Bears wrapping up a highly acclaimed NFL Draft class and the return of players to Halas Hall for workouts, this is the time of year when hope springs eternal. It spreads throughout the galaxy. Optimism is at an all-time high. And the good vibes are plentiful.
And then, there’s this:
#Bears OL coach Juan Castillo: I wouldn't be surprised if RT Germain Ifedi makes the Pro Bowl this year.
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) May 12, 2021
While Bears Offensive Line Coach Juan Castillo wouldn’t be surprised if right tackle Germain Ifedi makes the Pro Bowl this year, I, on the other hand, would be.
This isn’t me taking anything away from Ifedi, a 2016 first-round pick who we know has a tremendous work ethic. And I don’t want to short-sell Castillo’s ability as an offensive line coach. But envisioning an unexpected Pro Bowl season from Ifedi feels like A LOT.
But we can certainly talk about it. Follow me for a minute.
In Ifedi, the Bears have a player with a first-round pedigree. And in the eyes of some, that is enough of a base from which to build hope. Thinking back to NFL Draft Weekend ’16, I find myself re-visiting Mike Mayock’s commentary on Ifedi. Mayock saw a “massive and powerful” blocker with questionable technique. It turns out that sentiment seems to have been on the nose. Ifedi shows flashes of being able to use his size and strength to his advantage to gain leverage over defenders. But inconsistency in technique and mechanics shows up far too often for him to fully capitalize on his strengths.
I’m #NotAScout, but if technique and mechanics is what is capping Ifedi’s ceiling, then perhaps this is where a really good position coach can make an impact. And in the case of Ifedi, Castillo making a positive impact could impact an entire position group. Remember, Castillo’s guidance aided in helping undrafted young players Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars get up to speed quickly enough to spark the offensive line’s second-half turnaround last year. Ifedi already has size and talent as things going in his favor. And we saw him go from allowing 6 sacks in 2019 to just 2 in 2020. Two years ago, Ifedi’s 13 penalties were tied for the fifth most in football. A year later, Ifedi cut that number by more than half (5). That’s certainly notable.
Ifedi has his work cut out for him. Because while he sits at the top of the depth chart right now, I can’t imagine he will simply handed a job. There’s too much at stake to give anyone on this roster anything without them having to earn it first. Which is one reason I’m hesitant to dream about Ifedi’s Pro Bowl future. But on the other hand, this is the time to dream big dreams. It’s also to time to start putting in the action to make those dreams come true.