- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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Finding a permanent spot along the offensive for former first-round pick Chris Williams remains one of the Chicago Bears’ top priorities for the offseason.
Still, the club doesn’t know whether to return him to the position for which he was originally drafted (tackle) or plug him in for another year at guard, where he didn’t exactly inspire confidence for the upcoming season, making bolstering the interior one of the team’s priorities in its expected revamp of the offensive line.
Here’s a quick look at our top 20 at the guard position, and what round they’re projected to be taken. It’s important to note that several of these players -- including seven of the top 10 -- have extensive experience playing other positions along the offensive line such as tackle and center:
The next 10:11. Andrew Jackson, Fresno State, 6-5, 299; 12. Justin Boren, Ohio State, 6-3, 309; 13. Ricky Henry, Nebraska, 6-3, 308; 14. Mike Person, Montana State, 6-5, 299; 15. Garrett Chisolm, South Carolina, 6-5, 312; 16. Bryant Browning, Ohio State, 6-3, 316; 17. Ray Dominguez, Arkansas, 6-4, 334; 18. Daniel Kilgore, Appalachian State, 6-3, 308; 19. Brad Thorson, Kansas, 6-4, 300; 20. Byron Bell, New Mexico, 6-5, 348.
Position grade: C
Analysis: Along with uncertainty concerning Williams, the Bears need to figure out whether veteran stalwart Roberto Garza is still playing at an acceptable level. Clearly, the offensive line improved dramatically once Garza took over at right guard (after playing the first five games at left guard), but the team’s overall sack numbers in 2010 were unacceptable.
Bears coach Lovie Smith admitted that Lance Louis and Edwin Williams failed to capitalize on opportunities to crack the starting lineup on a permanent basis, leaving the impression that the team will look to add other options through free agency (whenever that occurs) or the draft.