J’Marcus Webb did a serviceable job this season for the Chicago Bears protecting Jay Cutler’s blindside. The third-year offensive tackle graded out as average, according to Pro Football Focus – a big leap from terrible last year. Webb had some very good games, some average games, and some very awful games that made you either scratch your head or have thoughts of sending your remote through your TV. The common denominator throughout the season with Webb is that he received a lot of help from his running backs and tight ends.
In this era where the college ranks are producing out some freakish athletes at defensive end and outside linebacker, even your most skilled OT are going to need help at times during the game. With Webb, it was more often than not, and that is why he’s not the answer at left tackle. When you max protect often, it limits what you want to do as an offensive coordinator. There were times where OC Mike Tice sent Brandon Marshall out on routes as the only WR. If the Bears want to develop into a great offense they have to improve at pass blocking, and it starts on the edges.
The Bears need to make LT their number-one priority in the off-season. Addressing it via free agency will be tricky. The three top names on the list are Denver Broncos Ryan Clady; Kansas City Chiefs Brandon Albert, and Miami Dolphins Jake Long, but not all three are expected to hit the open market.
Clady is one of the best LT’s in the league and he’s likely to get franchised by the Broncos. Albert could reach the open market if the Chiefs decide to make Texas A&M standout LT Luke Joeckel the first overall pick, but Andy Reid most likely will want a QB to work with. Do the Bears spend big bucks on Long, who has regressed the past couple seasons? When you think about all these scenarios, it’s best the Bears go the draft route for a LT.
Ideal Prospect for the Bears: Justin Pugh – Syracuse
Many people in draft circles assumed that Pugh will be returning to Syracuse for his senior year, so draft experts were a little surprised that Pugh declared himself for the NFL draft. Pugh is not a finished product, but he has all the tools to be a solid starting LT at the next level. For someone that is undersized at 6-6 292 pounds, Pugh is a physical blocker, as both a pass and run blocker. He’s still has room to grow into a dominant pass blocker, but he has shown early in his career that he has the foot quickness, athleticism, good use of his hands to contribute right away for teams looking for a LT.
If the Bears address the LT position in the draft with Pugh or any other prospect, it will allow them to move Webb to RT, where he’s more of a fit.