The Chicago Bears have undergone numerous changes heading into the 2020 NFL season. One of those changes is along the offensive line, as the offseason retirement of Kyle Long leaves a major void to fill. The 20th overall pick from the 2013 draft was limited to just 21 games over his last three seasons due to numerous injuries, all of which required surgery. In fact, Long hadn't played a full 16-game season since 2015.
With Long limited to just four games in '19, the Bears had somewhat of a revolving door at right guard after he was put on injured reserve. The inconsistency at the position played a part in why the Bears' O-line gave up 45 sacks last season. And as the Bears continue training camp, they're looking for someone to permanently take the reigns from the three-time Pro Bowler. Here's a closer look at the eight candidates for the starting job.
Coward first joined the Bears in 2017 as a defensive lineman after a solid career at Old Dominion. A year later, the Bears switched him to offensive tackle, and he made the roster after strong performances during the preseason. When Kyle Long's season ended last year, Coward stepped in almost seamlessly and started 10 games at right guard (he only committed four penalties). And because of that, he'll get the first crack at securing the starting job.
If Coward is the top candidate, then Ifedi is right there next to him. For four seasons in Seattle (2016-19), Ifedi started 60 total games. He played 13 games at right guard during his rookie campaign and switched between right guard and right tackle afterward. During Ifedi's time in the Pacific Northwest, the Seahawks made three playoff appearances (2016, '18, '19) and won the NFC West in 2016.
Penalties can be an issue for him at times (46 career penalties), but his flexibility and experience should help him land a roster spot. If he can outperform Rashaad Coward, then he could end up being named the starter.
Injuries during his college days at Notre Dame kept Bars from being selected in last year's draft. But the Bears signed the three-year starter as an undrafted free agent, and he was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster following the loss of Long. Bars played in five games, and the Bears are still high on his NFL potential.
Mustipher was a teammate of Bars at Notre Dame and they carried that relationship with them to the Bears last season. Bars definitely has a leg up on Mustipher, though, since the latter was never promoted from the practice squad. Mustipher has played both guard and center, and the Bears are high on him as well.
The 226th overall pick in April's draft started just 17 games at three stops (Colorado, Oklahoma State, junior college). He played offensive tackle at the collegiate level, but questions about Hambright's footwork and explosiveness off the line had some scouts projecting him as a guard as a pro. The Bears just might give him a look there during camp, and that could be how he makes this roster.
Simmons was drafted right after Hambright and played his college ball at Tennessee State. He played guard and tackle on both sides on the college gridiron, but his biggest challenge will be shedding the "small school" label, as TSU is an FCS program that went 20-23 during his tenure. But his versatility will get him extra reps in practice.
He was a sixth-round draft choice by the Titans in 2017 but didn't get on the field until the following year when he played in 16 games (one start) at both guard and center. Levin spent most of last season on the Broncos' practice squad, and the Bears picked him in late November. He doesn't have a ton of experience to draw off of, so Levin will need to show that he's more than a practice squad body in order to be considered as Long's replacement.
An undrafted free agent out of Yale, Eiselen started 34 games at guard for the Bulldogs from 2016 to '19. He was a two-time, first-team All-Ivy League selection ('18-'19) who helped guide the Bulldogs to two Ivy League Championships ('17, '19), and was an AP FCS All-American ('19). He has an uphill climb to make the team, but his collegiate credentials could help him get a chance to impress in training camp.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.