The Chicago Bears have selected Kyle Long, offensive guard out of University of Oregon, with the 20th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. While this pick is not the attractive, headline-making pick—like the rumored selection of Manti Te’o in many mock drafts—it makes the most sense for their team needs.
While Brian Urlacher–a player who will join the ranks of Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary of legendary Chicago linebackers—made his highly publicized departure from the team earlier this offseason, the Bears most glaring issue during the past several seasons has been their inability to protect quarterback Jay Cutler.
In 2012, Cutler made headlines when he shoved teammate J’Marcus Webb after being buffeted by the Green Bay Packers defense.
Moreover, it can be argued that former Head Coach Lovie Smith lost his job due to Cutler’s inability to remain healthy—an injury plagued few seasons that resulted from one of the league’s worst offensive lines.
At 6’7 and 311 pounds, Long—son of legendary Oakland Raiders defensive end Howie Long—will help allow Cutler more time in the pocket. Moreover, if he plays guard, Long will play the role of a great mauling blocker for running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush.
It is clear that the Bears want to run a deep passing attack with the rocket-armed Cutler and big receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. However, that is difficult to do when your offensive line suffers.
When one looks at the New Orleans Saints, one of the most explosive offenses in the league, one will find that much of their success came from their superior offensive line play.
With the acquisition of tackle Jermon Bushrod, the Bears can plug Long in at either right tackle or guard in order to keep Cutler upright in 2013.
In summation, the Bears pick wasn’t one that breaks media headlines. But, if their pick develops, they can keep their starters healthy and reach the playoffs in the wake of two disappointing seasons.