If the Bears are steadfast in their desire to upgrade Jay Cutler’s protection with their first-round pick, it’s beginning to look as if they will get no better than the sixth-best offensive lineman at No. 29.
At least that’s the way Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki sees the first round unfolding. On a national conference call Wednesday, Nawrocki said USC’s OT Tyron Smith would probably go in the top half of the first round based on his Pro Day that reaffirmed his status as the most athletically gifted O-lineman in the draft.
However, Nawrocki still considers Lake Zurich High School and Boston College product Anthony Castonzo the No.1 offensive lineman.
“Smith is the greater athlete,” according to Nawrocki, “but Castonzo is no slouch. The way he approaches the game is very impressive. A team could plug him in at left tackle and not have to worry about that position for 10 or 12 years.”
Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi, Florida C-OG Mike Pouncey and Colorado OT Nate Solder are the other offensive linemen that Nawrocki projects to come off the board before the Bears pick.
Some earlier mock drafts had the Bears tabbing Miami OT-OG Orlando Franklin at 29, but he had a lousy Pro Day, which could drop him all the way to Round 3. That could leave the Bears with a choice between Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod or Baylor OG Danny Watkins if they want to go O-line.
If they decide neither is worthy of their pick, the Bears would probably go with a defensive tackle first.
“I think they have to come away with an offensive lineman and a defensive tackle in the first two rounds,” Nawrocki said.