Kiper has Bears going for OL help

Kiper has Bears going for OL help

Posted by Bob LeGere on Wed, 02/13/2013 - 12:09

According to ESPN’s NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., who conducted a national conference call Wednesday morning, there are three elite offensive left tackles in this year’s rookie crop.

Unfortunately for the Bears, who would love to upgrade their blind-side protection of quarterback Jay Cutler, Kiper believes all three could be off the board before the Bears pick at No. 20.

Kiper currently has Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel going No. 1 overall to the Chiefs, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher goings seventh to the Cardinals and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson being taken by the Rams with the 16th pick.

Kiper predicts the Bears will go with Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker with their first-round pick, and the 6-foot-6, 335-pound fourth-year junior might be the answer at left tackle. But he might be better suited to stay at right tackle, where he played at ‘Bama.

Still, Fluker could be “the best (offensive lineman) the Bears have by the end of his rookie year,” Kiper says.

Cynics would argue that’s damning with faint praise given the struggles of the Bears’ offensive line in recent years, which is why G.M. Phil Emery is expected to address that position with the team’s first pick in April.

The Bears have devoted a total of two draft picks in the first three rounds over the last 10 years to offensive linemen, and they’re long overdue to begin devoting more resources to that position.

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