When Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery fired Lovie Smith and brought in Marc Trestman, one of the top reasons given to explain the change was that he wanted somebody to better protect quarterback Jay Cutler and further his development. So far, Emery and Trestman have done a fantastic job of doing just that.
Via the NFL Draft, they were able to address the offensive line issues right away by selecting offensive lineman Kyle Long out of Oregon with their first-round pick, who can play either guard or tackle and gives them a versatile body unlike anything they’ve seen recently. In the fifth round, the Bears grabbed Louisiana Tech offensive tackle Jordan Mills.
Throughout training camp, both rookie lineman have been impressive. Long is one of the biggest guys on the field and is one of the easier players to spot on the field at first glance. Like Julius Peppers, Long is one of the biggest you will see towering above everyone else when you scan over the field.
Long is quick, and possesses great footwork. He’s impressed the coaches so far with his willingness to do whatever they want him to. He’s expressed his desire to line up wherever they see fit, knowing he will excel regardless. Long was recently promoted to first team right guard, replacing former starter James Brown.
Mills had been working with the second team up until this week when he was promoted to right tackle with the starting group, thus demoting former seventh-round pick and head case J’Marcus Webb to the second team. The fifth round pick has been impressive both on the field and with the way he carries himself.
“It’s a great opportunity, it’s humbling, having Roberto Garza, Webb, Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, the whole offensive line helps me,” Mills said according to ESPN.
Mills went on about his experience with the veterans, “They’re in your ear every time I make mistakes I can go to the sideline expecting some criticism, constructive criticism — what to do here, you need to step this way, be a little bit lower, so it’s been great working with them. In my eyes, these dudes are all Hall of Famers so just to be here is so humbling.”
This move is something that both Trestman and Webb expected. Trestman has said that he wants to see more out of Webb and thus far he has been inconsistent. He will play whoever gives them the best shot to protect the quarterback, and right now, the right tackle belongs to Mills.
This battle on the line will be something to watch closely as the preseason unfolds and teams wrap up their camps. Long and Mills sure look like they aren’t going to give up their spots anytime soon, which for the Bears is a great sight. The organization has not had competition like this on the offensive line for a long time, and Emery is looking awfully smart at the moment.