Bears ready to size up offensive tackles
(MCT) — CHICAGO — With Marc Trestman on board, Phil Emery has achieved his goal of being able to stand side by side with his head coach in Mobile, Ala., while watching Senior Bowl practices.
Starting Monday, the Bears general manager and head coach are likely to spend a lot of time in the ends of the practice fields at Ladd Peebles Stadium where the offensive linemen take on the defensive linemen.
Emery and Trestman appear to be of like mind that a blocker will be a priority in the April draft.
It just so happens that the Senior Bowl offers quite a smorgasbord of offensive tackles. As many as eight of the tackles on the Senior Bowl rosters could be chosen in the first and second rounds.
Of the top tackles in the draft, the only ones not scheduled to be in Mobile are Texas A&M junior Luke Joeckel, who likely will be long gone by the time the Bears’ 20th pick comes around anyway, Louisiana State’s Chris Faulk, who is projected to be a second-round pick, and North Carolina’s Brennan Williams, another potential second-rounder.
Here, in alphabetical order, are the offensive tackles who are likely to draw a crowd of Bears scouts at the Senior Bowl.
Oday Aboushi, Virginia: He has good power but is viewed as a right tackle only by a number of NFL teams, which diminishes his value. But if Aboushi can show he has the athleticism and quickness to play the left side in Mobile, he can raise his draft stock. As it stands, Aboushi looks like a late second-round pick.
Eric Fisher, Central Michigan: This is a solid left tackle prospect who might not be on the board by the time the Bears’ turn comes. The Senior Bowl may have a big say in where he ultimately is taken because he hasn’t played against a lot of elite pass rushers. It should be noted he has played well against better competition when he has had the opportunity. Fisher frequently is compared by NFL front-office men to fellow Chippewa and current 49er Joe Staley, which doesn’t hurt Fisher a bit.
D.J. Fluker, Alabama: At 6-6, 335, Fluker is a very impressive physical specimen, and he is likely to show his rare power in Senior Bowl practices. Scouts say Fluker probably would be best suited to play right tackle — but he has the potential to be a dominating right tackle. He could be given some reps at guard in Mobile. Fluker, a surefire first-round pick, is likely to create a buzz this week. He performed well against Notre Dame in the BCS title game.
Lane Johnson, Oklahoma: This converted defensive lineman and tight end is seen as a work in progress, and the Senior Bowl will be a good forum to analyze him from a technical standpoint. Johnson has played mostly from the shotgun, so NFL teams will want to see him in a pro-style run game. He has the skill to be a solid starting left tackle in the NFL, so he looks like a good bet to be chosen in the first round. Some think his stock is going up. The upside is pretty high with this guy.
Kyle Long, Oregon: The son of Howie and the brother of Chris, Kyle Long he has a genetic advantage. He is a baseball player turned defensive end turned offensive tackle and has played his current position for only two years, so he has to prove he is ready to block at a high level. If the draft were held today, Long probably would be a second-round pick.
Justin Pugh, Syracuse: He could be a star in one-on-ones because of his athleticism. Pugh looks like a low first-round pick, and could move up with a strong Senior Bowl performance. Teams also want to get a good look at his power game. He and Fluker will be the first non-seniors to play in the Senior Bowl. Exceptions were granted because they had been in school for four years and earned their degrees.
Dallas Thomas, Tennessee: NFL teams are mixed on Thomas, who is being considered both at guard and tackle. He played left tackle for most of his career at Tennessee before being moved to guard as a senior. His run blocking in particular will be scrutinized. If he performs poorly this week, he could fall to the third round or lower.
Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin: He is seen in the lower rung of the top offensive tackle prospects, but he would not be a bad consolation prize in the second or third round. The word is he is better athletically than his former teammate Gabe Carimi, but not as physical.