Bears draft preview: Guards

April, 14, 2012
4/14/12
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David DeCastroDave Stephenson/Icon SMIStanford's David DeCastro is considered the best guard prospect in the draft.

The Chicago Bears' courtship of veterans guards such as Minnesota’s Anthony Herrera and former Cleveland Brown Eric Steinbach indicate the team -- despite what management has said about being comfortable with the protection -- seeks an upgrade at the position.

But the current situation might not be dire enough for the club to use the No. 19 pick on a seemingly can’t-miss prospect such as Stanford guard David DeCastro -- should he fall to the Bears -- given the team’s myriad needs on defense. So while a quality guard remains a strong consideration for the Bears at No. 19, it’s more likely the team would look to address the position in the late rounds or with undrafted free agents.

The fact the team reportedly worked out Memphis guard Ronald Leary -- projected to be a late-round pick -- indicates its leaning that direction.

Realistically, the Bears possess plenty of talent and depth on the current roster at guard. But the team’s NFL ranking (30th) on runs up the middle can’t be ignored. The Bears averaged 3.3 yards per attempt on runs up the middle, and the running backs never broke off a 20-yard plus carry on runs through the interior, according to ESPN Stats and Information. Such meager numbers point to a deficiency at the guard position.
Besides that, perhaps the team has learned from last season that even too much depth might never be enough. After all, injuries resulted in offensive linemen missing a combined 24 games, which wreaked havoc on timing, and consistency, and ultimately weakened protection in the passing game.

The next 10: 11. Joe Looney, Wake Forest, 6-3, 309; 12. Josh LeRibeus, Southern Methodist, 6-3, 312; 13. Adam Gettis, Iowa, 6-2, 293; 14. Ryan Miller, Colorado, 6-7, 321; 15. Andrew Tiller, Syracuse, 6-5, 324; 16. Desmond Wynn, Rutgers, 6-6, 303; 17. Ronald Leary, Memphis, 6-3, 315; 18. James Brooks, Virginia Tech, 6-3, 315; 19. Derek Dennis, Temple, 6-3, 315; 20. Antoine McClain, Clemson, 6-6, 329.

Position grade: A-.

Analysis: Over the years, the value of guards has increased because teams are becoming more vigilant about strengthening the inside of the pocket, which allows quarterbacks to better step into throws. There’s a slight chance that two of the top prospects -- DeCastro and Glenn -- could in the top 20. Although the Bears could stand to upgrade at guard, the team has other pressing needs it must first address; especially on defense.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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