Draft Pick Who Could Be the New Kyle Long for Bears

Gene Chamberlain

The Bears need guard help on the offensive line and a tough-guy presence they lost with Kyle Long's retirement.

So it's almost like Kentucky guard Logan Stenberg is flashing a neon sign at Ryan Pace saying: "I'm your guy."

At the combine, the 6-foot-6, 317-pound Stenberg posted rather average numbers for offensive linemen, like 26 reps on the bench and 5.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

They don't have a metric for nastiness at the combine or pro days, and Stenberg has had the ability to play with an edge throughout his time in Mark Stoops' Kentucky program.

Stenberg's snarly attitude would catch on immediately in Chicago, a place where the Grobowskis have always been appreciated more than the Smiths according to one former Bears coach. He is known for playing to the whistle and possibly a bit beyond.

"I grew up with three older brothers, so I kind of credit them for that meanness," Stenberg said at his combine interview. "I try to let it roll over on the field and use it as an advantage."

Bears coach Matt Nagy said at the combine he wants players to regain a chip on their shoulder as they had in 2018. No one can play satisfied.

It fits Stenberg's style to a tee. At Kentucky, Stenberg always had to contend with the fact his school had to fight for anything they could get in the tough SEC.

"Coming in we wanted to change the culture," Stenberg said. "Coach Stoops preached that since Day One. I took that to heart. I wanted us to be the meanest people in the SEC.

"I wanted the offensive line to be dominant and I think we achieved that."

Stenberg doesn't discourage those who would call him a throwback to another era while also insisting he's anything but a dull edge when it comes to the mental game involved with line play.

"I think I'm a smart guy," Stenberg said. "I play football very smart. I play hard and tough and the way it's supposed to be played.

"I think the way the game is going now it's more cupcake, pretty boy. I like to play like it's meant to be played."

Stenberg thinks NFL teams will like this attitude. When he spoke with NFL teams at the combine and watched some film of his play, he met with a positive overall reaction.

"They like the toughness," Stenberg said. "They like playing to the whistle and the mean streak."

However, Stenberg had a reputation for drawing personal fouls. Offenses can't afford 15-yard personal fouls and players have to adjust.

Long had three roughing or unsportsmanlike conduct penalties his first two seasons but only two the rest of his career, so players learn to adjust.

"I can't be getting penalties and hurting the team and that's something I have to work on," Stenberg said. "Teams know that. It will be taken care of."

The Bears are in need of a right guard. They could always move Cody Whitehair to center or left guard if they drafted another center, but James Daniels can be a center and could be moved there again this year.

So the lineman who would come in might need to be flexible when it comes to which side of the center they assume a stance.

"Honestly, I feel comfortable at left guard," Stenberg said. "Right guard isn't a big adjustment.

"Center would be the biggest adjustment. I've (practice) snapped for two years but never played center in a game so that would be different."

As a purveyor of nastiness, Stenberg could even appreciate the quality in players he opposed, like Florida defensive lineman Jonathan Greenard. He called Greenard likely the best player he's faced.

"Good player, nasty, tough guy who wanted to be in the trenches," Stenberg said. "He wasn't a pretty guy. He stood out."

No cupcakes or pretty boys allowed.