Bears linked to offensive linemen as NFL draft looms
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Bears linked to offensive linemen as NFL draft looms

by - Senior Writer -

It is amazing how one trade can drastically change the entire outlook of the NFL Draft. When the Bears held the No. 1 pick, most of the talk surrounded either Jalen Carter or Will Anderson Jr. as the player the Bears were going to take. It is hard to argue with either one of those guys when you look at the need to improve their defense from top to bottom.

However, after addressing defense first during the first wave of free agency, the Bears made things a bit more interesting by trading from Pick No. 1 down to Pick No. 9 with the Carolina Panthers. The deal ultimately landed them DJ Moore and several other picks while putting the Panthers in a position to draft CJ Stroud No. 1 overall.

Now sitting at No. 9, the Bears' plans for round one in the draft have drastically changed as their previously targeted players at No. 1 will most likely be gone by the time they pick ninth. There is a slim chance that Carter may still be available at nine, and if he is, you can guarantee that the Bears will take a swing at him despite his legal issues that may fall into place.

However, this team has other pressing needs, and one of them falls on the offensive line, where they still need to address the right tackle position. The past several days have seen Paris Johnson linked to Chicago, and if that is their choice at No. 9, it would be a great pick. Johnson is widely graded as the top offensive guard prospect in this year's class and would instantly improve this team.

Yet, when you look at even the most recent mock drafts, some surprise picks are happening in the first round, drastically affecting what the Bears could do with their pick. One thing that seems to be trending is the Bears going OL over defense with pick No. 9, which makes a ton of sense. While Johnson is the name most are talking about, consider Peter Skoronski as a possible option should he fall to No. 9.

The former Northwestern University OL, Skoronski, is the top-rated OL in this year's class and is rated a top-five overall prospect. The problem he may run into is that many teams picking inside the top 10 don't need an offensive lineman, which could cause Skoronski to fall further down the board. Should that happen, the Bears could be in a prime position to take him, and if so, he becomes a must at No. 9.

After failing to address the RT position thus far in free agency, the Chicago Bears have a glaring need at the RT position, and Skoronski does more than fill that need. Whether they take Johnson or Skoronski in this spot would be a win, but Skoronski could be an upgrade over Johnson and would be a franchise-caliber RT for at least the next decade.

Granted, he does have some of the shortest arms among OL in this year's class which is a concern come draft night; Skoronski makes up for that with his pure size and technique as a player. Skoronski is excellent at blocking both the run and pass, but he is better at run blocking, which is what the Bears offense has thrived on since Matt Eberflus and company took over.

If Chicago can give Justin Fields more time to throw, who knows how good this offense can become, especially with the addition of DJ Moore. There is still a chance that Chicago may trade back again should one of Ryan Poles' targeted players not be there at No. 9, but that wouldn't be a wise move.

In a year where protecting Fields is paramount should this offense want to take those next steps, adding solid players up front is the way to go. Skoronski, Johnson, or any other OT, for that matter, will help this team and will help Fields get better as a player. However, it should be Skoronski or Johnson at this point, as any other OT taken with the No. 9 pick would be a reach and a huge shocker to the NFL Draft boards.

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