While injuries along the offensive line have been a major storyline during training camp, I believe the narrative is beginning to turn.
And it could start with a fifth-round pick.
In his reporting on Teven Jenkins’ successful back surgery, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport hinted at rookie Day 3 pick Larry Borom getting a shot to show he deserves to be in the mix as the team’s starting left tackle. Nagy essentially confirmed that, saying of Borom to reporters (via Kevin Fishbain): “We see him still at the left side and competing for that left spot.”
To be clear, asking a fifth-round selection to step in to protect a quarterback’s blind side is a big ask. But the Bears are clearly higher on him than one might otherwise expect:
Matt Nagy on OT Larry Borom (and literally every other late-round draft pick in history): "We cannot believe this guy fell to the fifth round."
He said they had a 2nd- or 3rd-round grade on him.
— Jason Lieser (@JasonLieser) August 19, 2021
It is easy to understand why the Bears are high on the 151st overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Borom allowed just two sacks in 736 pass-blocking snaps over the 2019 and 2020 seasons at Missouri. Sure, Borom did so while playing right tackle, but let’s not dismiss his accomplishments because of his position. We know how rugged the SEC competition can be. And, if all else fails, you can’t teach size — especially not at 6-foot-6 and 332 pounds. Even still … thrusting Borom into a starting role seems risky. However, I see no harm in giving the youngster an opportunity at winning a job.
Open competitions are fun. And while I don’t see this one being as open as Nagy is making it seem, it’s worth noting that the Bears suddenly find themselves in an interesting situation. Or they will, should Borom develop at an accelerated rate and make noise in the process.
Veteran Jason Peters – he comes with a résumé that features nine Pro Bowls and a first-team All-Pro nod – is the clear favorite to win the starting job out of camp. But the fact Nagy isn’t writing off Borom is telling. Maybe it is a nod to Borom’s workout regimen, which helped him shed significant weight from his college playing days to be in this spot in the first place. Perhaps it is a testament to the versatility Borom possesses after playing four different positions at Missouri. And in the end, maybe this opens doors for Borom to be a long-term starter at another sooner or later. Whatever it is, it is telling that Nagy is giving him an opportunity at left tackle.
Right now, the most important consideration here is that Borom is healthy. The rookie is practicing again after missing nearly two weeks while in concussion protocol. And that Nagy thinks Borom can compete for a starting gig at this stage of his career after missing significant development reps in training camp speaks volumes about what the team thinks of Borom’s potential. We will stay tuned to his situation as it progresses. After all, maybe we’re looking at a surprise starter and we don’t even know it yet.