I Hope the Bears Paid Attention to Zion Johnson and the Rest of the Senior Bowl's Stud Offensive Linemen

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I Hope the Bears Paid Attention to Zion Johnson and the Rest of the Senior Bowl’s Stud Offensive Linemen

Chicago Bears

The Bears’ needs along the offensive line are plenty.

That much we know.

Good thing Ryan Poles, their new general manager, was an offensive lineman back in college. And in the years since, in which Poles made his climb up the front office ladder, he has seen how good lines are built, beaten, and rebuilt over time. That type of experience could come in handy this offseason, as Chicago’s football team embarks on re-stocking in the trenches. Especially since Poles already seems to have an eye on fixing the line.

The Senior Bowl’s tag line is The Draft Starts in Mobile. Fitting enough, that is where the Bears’ offseason search for offensive line help begins. And, frankly, it should start with Zion Johnson, who was impressive throughout the week:

Johnson is a stud lineman prospect. He earned All-American honors from the Associated Press, Walter Camp, and ESPN. PFF ranks Johnson as the site’s 46th overall prospect and third best interior line prospect. Only Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum (9th overall) and Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green (24th) grade out higher on Pro Football Focus’ big board. ESPN has Johnson as the top offensive guard and the 40th overall prospect in this class. In other words, Johnson is the truth when it comes to interior line prospects. And I hope the Bears were taking notes.

There will be obvious Bears connections made to Johnson between now and when the 2022 NFL Draft kicks off in 80 days. So … why not present them now?

Johnson played collegiately at Boston College. Coincidentally, that is where Poles played his college ball. Johnson plays along the offensive line. In fact, he has experience at guard and center. The Bears are in need of help at guard (where James Daniels is a free agent) and center (where Sam Mustipher grades out poorly, by PFF’s standards). It doesn’t get more perfect than this. Imagine the reaction of a former Boston College offensive lineman using his first draft selection as a general manager to take a fellow BC Eagles standout lineman. It would be priceless. But, to be fair, Johnson deserves draft consideration no matter where he was playing his college ball.

And to think, he wasn’t the only standout offensive lineman making waves at the Senior Bowl.

Brad Biggs (Tribune) spoke with a national scout at the Senior Bowl and was inquiring about potential second- and third-round picks. Remember, the Bears don’t have a first-rounder this year. Otherwise, we’d be banging down the door for first-round linemen around here. That scout name-checked Johnson, and three others: Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele, Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning, and Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann. Meanwhile, Michael Renner (PFF) gave up Washington State’s Abraham Lucas as a possible Day 2 option. So many quality lineman prospects. And yet, I keep coming back to Johnson.

Chase Goodbread (NFL dot com) circled Johnson as a standout performer, noting how his arrival helped carry the ground attack for the “National” team. Todd McShay (ESPN) had Johnson down as the Senior Bowl’s best player, adding the Boston College product is “as safe as can be as a prospect.”

Again … we’re 80 days from the NFL Draft taking place. And it is 81 until the Bears are scheduled to go on the clock. But it is never too early to have eyes on prospects. Especially ones who can help keep Justin Fields clean and create running lanes for David Montgomery and friends.

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.