The only way for an offensive line to achieve chemistry is for the same five guys to line up next to each other on a daily basis. Too often in recent years the Chicago Bears had to make changes up front, either due to injuries or subpar play, which hurt the overall product.
The best course of action for the Bears would be to settle on a starting five on the offensive line early in camp and stick with it. Heading into training camp it would appear that four of the five starting spots have been locked up by newcomers left tackle Bushrod and left guard Matt Slauson and holdovers center Roberto Garza and right tackle J'Marcus Webb.
That leaves one job open -- right guard.
Second-year player James Brown is expected to get the first crack at right guard when camp opens on July 24, but the Bears' ultimate plan is for Long to eventually slide into the starting lineup. Why else would they have drafted him No. 20 overall? To sit on the bench?
But the speed at which Long moves up the depth chart is entirely dependent on his development.
The good news for the Bears is that Long didn't miss a whole lot by being forced by the NCAA to sit out the offseason program. Offensive linemen are judged when the pads are on, not going through non-contact drills in shorts and helmets in organized team activities and minicamps.
If the Bears were on the money with their pre-draft evaluations of Long, the athletic rookie should be in position to overtake Brown in a matter of weeks.
Or perhaps Brown solidifies himself on the right side.
Either way, if the Bears have their offensive line in place by mid-August, they should be in decent shape, given that Aaron Kromer is regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL.