It’s common knowledge that the Chicago Bears have had their issues over the previous two seasons, but one issue that isn’t talked about enough is the health of their offensive linemen. The Bears have had a revolving door of the men in the trenches because of all of the injuries that this position has endured. But to return to the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, they’ll need every big man to be at 100 percent. Especially since there will be a new quarterback taking snaps. There will also be some position battles to sort out, and here is how this group looks with training camp underway.
The Bears have high hopes on this rookie out of Oklahoma State, especially since the team traded in order to grab him with the 39th overall selection. The hope is that he could land the starting left tackle spot, which previously belonged to the since-departed Charles Leno Jr. His size (6-6, 320), strength, reach, and physicality will serve him well in the NFL; he just has to translate his college success over to the pros. Jenkins has been sidelined by a back injury, so his progress d will bear watching.
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After missing the final 11 games of 2020 due to a torn pectoral muscle, the Bears are more than happy to have the 39th overall pick from 2018 back on the field. The Bears missed his solid blocking skills, intensity, mean streak, and flexibility (can also play center). With rookie Justin Fields ready to take the reigns, having Daniels dependability up front is a necessity.
Through all of the injuries and the turmoil since 2016, Whitehair has been the one constant. He’s managed to stay healthy, although he missed two games last season because of COVID-19 protocols, and he has done everything that the team has asked of him. Whitehair also brings much-valued versatility to the table — he can play center, guard or tackle — and with Daniels back on board, the Bears' offensive line should be at full strength this season.
He’s on the PUP list to start camp, but once he’s cleared, Ifedi will be looking to land the starting right tackle spot again. He played in all 16 games last year and even spent some time at guard because of all the injuries. He’s another player who can play multiple positions on the line, but right tackle is his best position.
He played in 45 games for the Denver Broncos from 2017-20 (26 starts) but has never completed a full season because of injuries and time spent on the practice squad early in his career. Wilkinson must show this coaching staff that he can be counted on for a full campaign.
Another rookie looking to make an impression, the Bears selected the former Missouri standout in the fifth round of this year's draft. With the Tigers, Borom played in 33 games in which he saw time at left tackle, right tackle, and left guard. That versatility will give him an advantage, but he has to earn his spot on the field.
After keeping this line afloat through all of the injuries last year, and after proving himself on short notice during the previous season, Bars may have played himself into a starter's role for 2021 — potentially one of the starting guards. The former Notre Dame standout also has the versatility to play inside or outside that head coach Matt Nagy desires and has earned the trust and respect of his teammates along the way.
He played tackle and guard on both sides at Tennessee State, which is why the Bears used a seventh-round selection on him last year. Originally a practice squad player, Simmons appeared in one game in 2020 as the offensive line continued to go through its injury woes. But he didn’t play another down after entering COVID-19 protocol in November. With preseason games returning this year, hopefully Simmons will get the chance to showcase his positional flexibility.
The second-year tackle out of Colorado has a lot to prove this year. He was a seventh-round draft pick in 2020 and began the season on the practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster for nine games with all of the injuries, made one start, and also saw some time on special teams. Hambright should get plenty of opportunities in training camp and during the preseason to claim his spot in the rotation, but he better take advantage of these with all of the competition around him.
Like Bars and Whitehair, Mustipher was another player who kept this group afloat through all of last year’s adversity. His previous NFL experience, and his ability to play more than one position (guard and center), gives him a leg up on the competition.
Eiselen appeared one game for the Bears at guard last year. He was another player who began the year on the practice squad but got his chance when the injured list started filling up. Now, the former Yale standout hopes to add a few more games to his résumé. But like most other players on this list, he’ll have to earn his chances.
This will be Redmond’s sixth NFL season since entering the league as an undrafted free agent from Harvard. He’s appeared in 18 games since 2016 but has never started in the NFL. He’ll have to overcome a lack of experience in order to make this team.
This undrafted free agent played his college ball at LSU, but now he’s looking to make a name for himself in the NFL. But he’ll have to navigate a crowded depth chart in order to do that. He appeared in 26 games for the Tigers and was a member of their 2019 national championship team.
Like Traore, Parker is another undrafted SEC product (played at Mississippi State) who’s looking to land an NFL opportunity. His size (6-4, 355) could help him stand out amongst the others he'll be competing with for one of the final roster spots. Parker played in 47 games (22 starts) for the Bulldogs, lining up at both left and right guard.
Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
The son of a former NFL running back, Wheatley is looking to continue the family legacy. Originally a tight end, Wheatley started his college career at Michigan before moving on to Stony Brook and then finishing at Morgan State. Wheatley has since made the switch to offensive line and most recently played for the Blues in the Spring League, a developmental league, before earning an invite to Bears training camp.