The Chicago Bears need to improve their offensive line for the 2013 season. You could argue that all five players across the line need to be replaced. Realisitically speaking however, that's not going to happen and the Bears are going to have to identify their biggest weakness and attack it accordingly. That weakness is likely the left guard spot with no real player worth his weight ready to step in and be a successful starter.
In this draft there are three offensive guards who by some accounts are projected to go in the first round. The question, is there legitimate value that those players could add to the Chicago Bears winning a Super Bowl title during the 2013 season?
To answer that question I went to the tape to get a feeling on how good the potential three first round guard draft picks really are.
Keep in mind it requires a very unique skill set to play offensive guard in the NFL. You have to able to anchor against strong defensive tackles, but have to be athletic enough to deal with speed at all three levels, because in today's game guard have to block well against quick DTs, linebackers and even players in the secondary.
Chance Warmack of Alabama seems to be the highest rated offensive guard entering the NFL draft. He's got the reputation based strictly on being from Alabama. He's pretty big, at 6-foot-2 322-pounds and he's strong.
What Warmack isn't is a good guard prospect. The term phone booth player gets thrown around a lot, and that's what Warmack is a two gap inside zone man on man blocker. Warmack is neither agile, or quick on his feet. He's a mauler, which is good, but against NFL level defensive tackles he's likely to get beat often with speed.
So often draftniks fall in love with what they see of a player on tape, without considering what else they need to be able to do to succeed. Warmack is one of those players, who stands out at the college level but will struggle with his one-dimensional ability in the NFL.
The Bears need an offensive guard that can get out in space, that can pull and get around the edge on screens, because that's where the Bears have their most success is out on the edges. Being able to zone block to the outside on stretch plays is of utmost importance to succeed in the NFL. Good offensive guards aren't limited in their ability David DeCastro, the Pouncey brothers are examples of complete guards that can do it. Warmack simply doesn't have that ability, he's no where near as athletic as the best guards that have been draft in recent memory.
Warmack is comparable to Edwin Williams who is currently on the roster, pretty good in tight spaces, good pass blocker but don't put him on the move or there will be problems.
North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper is the opposite of Chance Warmack in terms of skill set and athleticism. Cooper has quick feet, is a sound technician and can get out front on sweeps, outside zones and screens. Cooper is the type of player that fits the role at 6-foot-3 310-pounds he is the type of guard you would expect the Bears to draft.
He blocks the angles well, he gets to the second level in a hurry, to put it simply Cooper plays like a 3-technique defensive tackle. He's the ideal guard prospect and should be more highly regarded than Warmack.
Cooper would fit in nicely with Chicago because he could pair with Lance Louis to form a very athletic and stout guard combo. The former Tarheal is precisely the type of guard the Bears should look at if they're going to take a guard in the 2013 draft.
Next we come to Kentucky's Larry Warford who stood out at the Senior Bowl to a lot draftniks that were impressed with his size and strength. Warford is a large man with a very impressive lower trunk. Warford is another small space guy who can mix it up in the trenches.
This prospect is not going to lose a lot of one on one battles from pure strength standpoint. He's the guy you're going to run behind when it's 3rd and short. He's a good straight line run blocker and a good pass blocker in tight spaces.
Warford like Warmack however has VERY little movement skills. He's not going to be out in space on sweeps and attack guys at the second level. He's not nimble enough to be that guy, he's more than likely going to miss the guy he's trying to block because they'll be smart enough and nimble enough to step around him.
For comparison's sake we saw a lot of this problem when Gabe Carimi was at guard this year. When the Bears asked him to pull, Carimi looked extremely awkward and slow in doing so. The further Warford has to run the worse of a blocker he becomes.
At 6-foot-3 333-pounds he's a monster of a man that is going to punish people in tight spaces, but he could be beaten by speed. Ask him to stretch block or to take away angles or to keep close to more athletic players so as not to open up gaps for linemen or 'backer to penetrate and you're going to be in trouble.
If football were still a game of three yards and a cloud of dust, where you get behind big guys and push the pile then maybe Warford and Warmack would be the guys you drafted. But in today's NFL as we saw time and again with guards who aren't athletic enough, just here in Chicago with the Bears, athleticism is a trait that makes for a better more complete offensive guard.