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Neglect and Failure at Tackle

The Bears have neglected the tackle spot in the NFL Draft under Ryan Pace, and failed in the past at the position when they did try to find players.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace came to the Bears from New Orleans, where he served under Saints GM Mickey Loomis.

The Saints haven't been in the bottom half of the league in offense or scoring since before Sean Payton became coach in 2005, and an unwritten tenet of New Orleans offensive success had been to have good guards and a center so Drew Brees could step up to throw. 

The tackle spots weren't viewed then with quite the same priority.

That was then, this is now as they say.

The Saints greatly revised their thinking along the way. Left tackle Terron Armstead has made the last three Pro Bowls. Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk was an All-Pro two years ago.

Pace might need to get with it and update his approach to his offensive line. In fact, he'd better do it.

Now in his seventh draft, Pace's only selections to date at tackle were Tayo Fabuluje in Round 6 of his first draft in 2015 and Lachavious Simmons in Round 7 last year. No one even knows if Simmons is a tackle because he hasn't played yet. They also drafted college tackle/guard Arlington Hambright in Round 7 last year but he appears to be more of a guard and played in one game there last year.

As for Fabuluje, he lasted four games in the NFL without a start.

If coach Matt Nagy followed this theory about guards being more important than tackle, then it would be understandable if the Bears ignored the position. 

However, Kansas City doesn't operate this way under Andy Reid and Nagy usually follows in lock step with his mentor.

The Chiefs lost tackle Eric Fisher to a torn ACL in the playoffs last year. Their other tackle, Mitchell Schwartz, had to have back surgery. Rather than leave this all to chance and the draft, the Chiefs went right out this week and sacrificed their first-round pick, third-round and fourth-round picks in this draft and a fifth-rounder in 2022 to trade with the Baltimore Ravens for Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown, as well as a second-round and sixth-round pick.

The quarterback position long has been associated with the Bears as one of draft failure. At least they devoted four years to Mitchell Trubisky starting as their No. 1 draft pick.

Neglect has been far greater at tackle and failure almost as extensive.

They found a suitable tackle in Leno and he played above average on the left side but they never sought to upgrade to a really strong player. They signed a free agent at right tackle who had similar skill level and Bobby Massie missed chunks of the last two seasons. The fill-ins were low-budget free agent signings.

In Pace's first year, the right tackle spot was addressed by sliding guard Kyle Long to the spot. He was quickly moved back for 2016 to guard, although he did make the Pro Bowl.

Even former Bears general manager Phil Emery had greater regard for the tackle position than Pace.

He drafted Leno in the seventh round and it has worked out far better than most seventh-rounders ever do in the NFL. Leno made a Pro Bowl as an alternate, but hasn't been among the league's elite. 

Emery drafted Jordan Mills in Round 5 in 2013 and Mills became a five-year starter in a seven-year career that ended in 2019. He started two years for the Bears, then five with the Bills.

Former GM Jerry Angelo held the position up at a high level of importance — he just couldn't draft one who worked out well, either.

Bears 1985 great Jimbo Covert is going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year after playing from 1983 to 1990 and becoming a member of the NFL's 1980s All-Decade Team. He was the last really successful tackle the Bears have selected.

Without successful tackles in the draft, the Bears have had to live by free agency, and when teams live by free agency in this salary cap era then they usually operate with deficits.

The message is clear: The Bears need to start effectively drafting tackles. 

It's the reason players like Oklahoma State's Teven Jenkins or Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw in Round 1 or later North Dakota State's Dillon Radunz and Michigan's Jalen Mayfield need to receive real consideration in the draft.

Bears Tackles Drafted Since Jimbo Covert

1984 Tom Andrews 4th Round. Result: 3 years, 2 with Bears, 2 Bears starts

1985 Steve Buxton 8th Round. Result: Did not make team

1986 Paul Blair 4th Round. Result: 3 years, 2 with Bears, 2 Bears starts

1987 Archie Harris 7th Round. Result: Didn't make team, 3 games with Denver

1988 Caesar Rentie 7th Round.  Result: 5 games with Bears, no starts

1989 Steve Dyko 8th Round. Result: Did not make team

1990 Roman Matusz 11th Round. Result: Did not make team

1991 Stan Thomas 1st Round. Result: 4 years, 2 with Bears, 26 Bears starts

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1992 Troy Auzenne 1st Round. Result: 5 years, 4 with Bears, 30 Bears starts

1992 Louis Age 11th Round. Result: 6 games with Bears, no starts

1994 Marcus Spears 2nd Round. Result: 9 games with Bears, no starts, 9 years in NFL

1996 Jon Clark 6th Round. Result: Result: 2 years with Bears, 2 games; 4 NFL years

1998 Chad Overhauser 7th Round. Result: Did not make team; 1  NFL year

1999 Jerry Wisne 5th Round. Result: 1 year with Bears, 7 games, 1 start; 2 NFL years.

2001 Mike Gandy 3rd Round. Result: 3 years with Bears, 30 starts; 8 NFL years, 106  starts

2002 Marc Colombo 1st Round. Result: 2+ years with Bears, 7 starts; 9 NFL years, 95 starts

2008 Chris Williams 1st Round. Result: 4+ years with Bears, 38 starts; 7 NFL years, 57 starts

2008 Bernard Robertson 5th Round. Result: 1 year with Bears, 5 starts

2008 Kirk Barton 7th Round. Result: 1 game with Bears, no starts

2010 J'Marcus Webb 7th Round. Result: 3 years with Bears, 46 starts; 10 NFL years, 73 starts

2011 Gabe Carimi 1st Round. Result: 2 years with Bears, 16 starts; 4 NFL years, 26 starts

2013 Jordan Mills 5th Round. Result: 2 Bears years, 29 starts; 7 NFL years, 84 starts

2014 Charles Leno Jr. 7th Round.  Result: 7 Bears years, 94 starts, 1 Pro Bowl

2015 Tayo Fabuluje 6th Round. Result: 4 Bears games.

2020 Arlington Hambright, 7th Round. Result: 1 Bears game at guard

2020 Lachavious Simmons 7th Round. Result: Has not played

Bears Free Agent Tackles Starts

Under GM Ryan Pace

Germain Ifedi, 6 tackle starts (10 guard) in 2020

Bobby Massie, 64 starts 2016-2020

Alex Bars 1 start in 2020

Rashad Coward 1 start 2020

Cornelius Lucas 6 starts in 2019

Bradley Sowell 1 start in 2017

Mike Adams 1 start in 2016

Jermon Bushrod 3 starts in 2015

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