3:09 PM CDT, July 26, 2011
People are talking up the Bears’ assault on undrafted free agents on Tuesday, and I hope some of those scouting reports offered by Trib football master Dan Pompei are right.
But the more important issue is signing and coaching those first three draft picks. That’s where the focus ought to be, for us and the Bears.
Gabe Carimi was drafted to fill a need at left tackle. Stephen Paea was drafted second to fill a hole at defensive tackle. Chris Conte was drafted to fill a problem at safety. Now, undrafted free agent signee Alex Linnenkohl might replace Olin Kreutz at center, but probably not this year, and this year is what counts.
The undrafted free agents might matter. Might. The other guys have to. The top draft picks will get the longest looks. In an offseason that has been more off than season, their learning curve is critical, certainly more important than a list of what might turn out to be just camp bodies.
Carimi, especially. Whatever the Bears offense is going to look like, it starts with the offensive line, and the line starts in no little chaos. The defense returns its main parts. Questions still remain there, but far fewer than on the offensive line.
Can Carimi pass block as the original notion of the Mike Martz offense demands from a left tackle? Can he do it better than Chris Williams, and what’s up with him at guard even though the Bears’ website still lists him as a tackle? Is J’Marcus Webb legit at right tackle or will he swap sides with Carimi? Is Frank Omiyale a starting right guard if Roberto Garza moves to center because Kreutz moves elsewhere.
Yeah, don't forget, Kreutz remains unsigned and apparently has some interest from other teams.
And remember, this unit had issues before Jay Cutler’s knee injury.
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