Friday, April 13, 2012
Bears draft preview: Centers
By Michael C. Wright
Northern Illinois' Scott Wedige could be an option for the Bears as an undrafted free agent.
Veteran Roberto Garza signed a two-year contract extension last November, and the current roster features at least two more players -- Chris Spencer and Edwin Williams -- capable of playing the position, meaning the Chicago Bears likely won’t be on the lookout for a center in the NFL draft.
That doesn’t mean the club won’t bring in undrafted free agents in an attempt to uncover a gem or two. But when determining whether a lineman fits the system of new offensive coordinator Mike Tice the key is versatility. Tice covets linemen capable of playing multiple positions.
So it’s not surprising that both Spencer and guard Lance Louis played out of position last season (normally a center, Spencer played guard and Louis filled in at tackle), and performed relatively well.
Based on the private workouts conducted by the team thus far and the pre-draft visits scheduled, it doesn’t appear the Bears are looking to add to the center position. The club has reportedly held private workouts with two offensive linemen -- Oklahoma's Donald Stephenson and Ronald Leary of Memphis -- but neither play center.
More than likely if the team looks to add at center, look for it to lean on Tice to uncover a potential steal in an undrafted rookie. The club has taken looks at local prospects not likely to be drafted like Northern Illinois’ Scott Wedige or Northwestern’s Ben Burkett. In fact, Bears offensive line coach Tim Holt recently worked out Wedige, who also anticipates a meeting with Tice.
Analysis: Teams don’t typically draft centers in the first round, but Konz has a legitimate shot to be the third drafted at the position in the first in the last three years. Outside of the first round, however, there appears to be plenty of value within the class with Jones and Brewster, who might be capable of earning starting jobs as rookies. With Garza and Spencer in the fold, the Bears possess plenty of depth at the position, which means this isn’t a position the club will address.