Bears

Gabe Carimi draft capsule

Gabe Carimi draft capsule

Gabe Carimi, Offensive Lineman
Height: 6-7 Weight: 314 College: Wisconsin

What they say about Carimi

CBSSports.com

Overview
It didn't take much to convince Carimi to become a Badger. The Cottage Grove, Wis., native was a Parade All-American who wanted to be the next in a long line of great offensive linemen to roll through Wisconsin.

After redshirting in 2006 to add weight, Carimi was thrown into the fire as the replacement for left tackle Joe Thomas, who was drafted No. 3 overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2007. Carimi started all 13 games that season on the blind side, where he would anchor the Badgers' offensive line for 49 starts over four years.

By his junior season, Carimi began to garner national attention and was selected first-team All-Big Ten by the media and was a second-team choice by the coaches. That catapulted him into 2010, when he helped the Badgers average 5.47 yards per carry and 245.7 rushing yards per game.

When Carimi says he's the best offensive tackle in the 2011 draft, he has the hardware and resume to back up his claim. The Outland Trophy winner has faced Adrian Clayborn (Missouri), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue) and Cameron Heyward (Ohio State) - pass rushers who are all projected as potential first-round picks this year by NFLDraftScout.com. He also squared off against teammate J.J. Watt in practice on a daily basis.

"I have a better resume of going against better talent than anyone else, so that makes me more (pro) ready," Carimi said at the scouting combine. "I'm physically stronger and have more career starts and better knowledge of the game than any other tackle out there. That's while I'm the No. 1 tackle."

Boston College's Anthony Castonzo actually had 53 career starts, but Carimi's point is well made nonetheless. He has the size, toughness, strength and confidence to play very early in his career.

The question is where that will be. Carimi wants to play left tackle, but could be a better fit on the right side. He also said he "handled it better than anybody else" when he was among several tackles asked to take snaps at guard during Senior Bowl week.

"I just used my natural ability and athleticism to play real well at that," Carimi said. "I've been in a pro style offense for four years. When you go to the Senior Bowl, you see how much more knowledge you have coming out of a pro style offenses versus the other tackles that were there at the Senior Bowl."

Carimi prefers tackle, and said no teams at the combine talked to him about moving to guard.

"Obviously, I think I can play left tackle," he said. "It's up to the organization what their needs and wants are."

Analysis
Pass Blocking: Has the elite agility and nimble feet to protect the quarterback's blindside. Very difficult to turn the corner against because of his lateral movement and solid footwork. Also protects the inside lane well. Delivers a strong hand punch capable of knocking back an opponent, and is able to recoil and extend again. Uses his length to block his man with one hand and knock an edge blitzer off his path with the other. Quick to cut on bubble screens and reverses, though he could get more of his man's legs to be truly effective. Bends at the waist while engaged; usually holds on to prevent secondary rush but will also end up on the ground too often.

Run blocking: Known as an athletic pass protector, but is a strong blocker for the Badger run game. Has strong upper and lower body builds despite his height. Plays with leverage against stout defensive ends and tackles on the edge, can get under their pads and churn his legs to move them down or off the line. Effective combo blocker, gets a hand on a tackle and still manages to push ends out of the play on strong-side runs. Leans or bends at the waist to latch on at times, will get shed and lose his balance.

Pullingtrapping: Usually not asked to pull or trap from the outside, but down-blocks often and has the quickness and footwork to move behind the line. Gets his quick hands out in front to get a piece of inside defenders before moving to the MIKE linebacker. Can sustain blocks in space because of his length and nimble feet.

Initial Quickness: Elite first step in his kick slide and lateral movement, does not get beat off the edge very often. Also explodes off the ball on run plays, is capable of driving his man back a few yards. Defenders will take advantage of the quickness to take him upfield or knock him off balance, however.

Downfield: Excellent footwork and agility to get downfield. Reaches linebackers at the second level and defensive backs further downfield equally well. Knows the proper angle to cut off defenders from the ballcarrier. Good lateral movement once engaged, gives effort to sustain against smaller defenders. Tends to bend at the waist and punch instead of moving after initial contact.

Intangibles: Solid player with strong work ethic, as well as football and general intelligence. Received multiple Academic All-American and All-Big Ten awards. Missed three games in 2008 with right MCL sprain, but played through maladies in 2009: slight tear in right MCL scarring, left AC joint (shoulder) sprain, H1N1 virus. Fasted for 24 hours before 2008 game against Iowa in observance of Yom Kippur.

Compares to: Michael Roos, Titans -- Roos might have been a first-round pick, as Carimi is projected to be, if he had played at Wisconsin instead of Eastern Washington. Like Roos, expect Carimi to get a shot on the left side because of his toughness despite lacking exceptional athleticism.

National Football Post

Carimi might not be the be the most athletic tackle in this draft but when its all said and done he may be the best overall tackle. Gabe is a 5th year senior. He redshirted his freshman year but then became a four-year starter at left tackle, starting a total of 49 games.One thing that helps Carimi is that he has played in a pro-style offense his whole career. He plays mostly from a 3-point stance but at times will play from a 2-point. He has a comfortable stance with his feet flat and his butt low. He has very good snap reaction and initial quickness. As a run blocker he gets into his block quickly and shows explosive snap on contact. He has a natural hip roll and he is always driving his feet. He is very physical and aggressive as a run blocker and consistently looks to finish. He has the athleticism to play in space and make blocks at the second level. He does a good job adjusting to movement and always takes good angles.In pass protection he is able to set quickly and is efficient cutting off wide speed. He has a strong punch and is consistent with keeping his hands inside. Carimi has good natural bend and is excellent when taking on bull rushers. He shows good mirror ability versus counter moves with his quick feet and ability to redirect. He has very good awareness and patience and wont get fooled when his opponents try different blitzes.Overall, there are some tackles in this draft that have a little better athleticism and may pass protect a little better but no one has the combination of run blocking, pass protection and nastiness as Carimi. Tyron Smith is the most talented tackle in this class but in my view Carimi is next. I love his game day demeanor and his overall focus. This player is going to be a very steady NFL tackle and play for a long time.WalterFootball
Strengths: Excellent run blocker Powerful Heavy hands Tenacious Very good size, strength and bulk Good straight-line athlete Intelligent; doesn't miss assignments Flashes an impressive play every so often in pass pro Quick in getting to the second level Adequate in pass protection to play RT at next level

Weaknesses:
Bends at waist too much - not a natural knee bender Lacks agility Not a smooth athlete - a little stiff Poor footwork On the ground a lot - gets unbalanced Struggles in space Lacks kneeankle flexion Hands need work Lets linemen get in his pads Very raw - relies heavily on sizestrength
Summary: Carimi will play in the NFL for some team and start at right tackle. He is byno means a left tackle and I will be shocked if he is drafted in the first round next year. Carimi has size and he is a powerful run blocker, but lacks the athleticism, technique andconsistency for him to be even discussed as a first-round talent. I think he is a second- or third-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and I currently have a third-round grade on Carimi.

Player Comparison: Jeremy Trueblood: Trueblood and Carimi both have similar body types andare punishing run blockers. However, Trueblood is just a solid starter at right tackle for Tampa Bay, and I think that is the most we can hope for out of Carimi in the NFL.

Sideline Scouting

Positives: Good athlete... Very solid pass protector... Ideal size with long arms... Very good strength... Reasonably good anchoring strength, holds up to bull rushers well... Reasonably good lateral movement and slide... Good position blocker, takes good angles... Stays on his blocks, works to finish, adjusts reasonably well... Does a nice job staying in front of defender... Uses his hands well, good forceful punch... Can control and manhandle defender once locked on... Good upper body strength... Good power... Very good run blocker... Very solid drive blocker... Gets off the line reasonably quick and with good explosion... Can open holes in the running game... Can get to the second level, can seal linebackers from the action... Breaks down reasonably well in space... Does a nice job hitting moving targets... Tough, possesses a mean streak... Confident... Will be an early starter at Right Tackle in the NFL.

Negatives: Inconsistent footwork in pass protection... Can be beat by speed... Bends at the waist, leans, reaches and lunges versus outside speed... Needs to work on establishing an anchor and maintaining his balance better... Will stop his feet on contact in pass protection... Doesn't always re-direct smoothly, especially on inside counter moves... Lateral footwork can get too long... Inconsistent kick step, either gets too wide or goes with heavy short steps... Has trouble on inside counter-moves... Gets too upright in pass protection, allows defenders under his pads, loses some battles for leverage... While not bad, he does struggle a little to stay low when firing off the ball when run blocking, allows his body to get ahead of his feet... Gets a little too narrow when run blocking... Doesn't always get great movement in the running game... Some medicaldurability issues concerning his knee.

As the Bears begin to form an identity, special teams need to catch up

As the Bears begin to form an identity, special teams need to catch up

If you squint, you can start to see the Bears forming an identity. The offense, at its best, will control the game with Jordan Howard and an offensive line that’s improving with cohesion over the last few weeks. The defense will stop the run, rarely blow assignments and — at least last week — force a few turnovers. 

Those can be the makings of a team that's at least competitive on a week-to-week basis. But they also leave out a critical segment of this group: Special teams. And that unit is obscuring whatever vision of an identity that may be coming into focus. 

Jeff Rodgers’ special teams unit ranks 29th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings, and is below average in all five categories the advanced statistics site tracks: field goals/extra points, kickoffs, kickoff returns, punts and punt returns. 

Had the Bears’ just merely "fine," for lack of a better term, on special teams Sunday, they would’ve controlled a win over the Baltimore Ravens from start to finish. But a 96-yard kickoff return (after the Bears went up 17-3) and a 77-yard punt return (which, after a two-point conversion, tied the game in the fourth quarter) were the Ravens’ only touchdowns of the game; they otherwise managed three field goals. 

Rodgers didn’t find much fault with the way the Bears covered Bobby Rainey’s kickoff return — he would’ve been down at the 23-yard line had the officiating crew ruled that Josh Bellamy got a hand on him as he was tumbling over. But the Bears players on the field (and, it should be said, a number of Ravens) stopped after Rainey hit the turf; he got up and dashed into the end zone for a momentum-shifting score. 

“A lot of our players stopped, all their players stopped,” Rodgers said. “There were players from both teams who came on to the field from the sideline. So there’s a lot of people on that particular play who thought the play was over.”

That return touchdown could be chalked up to an officiating-aided fluke, but Michael Campanaro’s punt return score was inexcusable given the situation of the game (up eight with just under two minutes left). The Bears checked into a max protect formation, and no players were able to wriggle free and get downfield toward Campanaro (Cre’von LeBlanc, who replaced an injured Sherrick McManis, was knocked to the turf). Rodgers said O’Donnell’s booming punt wasn’t the issue — it didn’t need to be directed out of bounds, he said — and instead pointed to a lack of execution by the other 10 players on the field. And not having McManis isn’t an excuse here. 

“We expect everybody to play at the standard at which that position plays,” Rodgers said. “I don’t put that touchdown on one guy getting hurt, but you’d always like to have your best players on the field.”

In isolation, the special teams mistakes the Bears have made this year can be explained — beyond these two returns, Marcus Cooper slowing up before the end zone was baffling, yet sort of fluky. But while the Bears’ arrow is pointing up on defense and, at the least, isn’t pointing down on offense, these special teams mistakes collective form a bad narrative. 

“We take those players, we practice it, and like all mistakes, you admit them and then you fix them,” coach John Fox said, “and then hope to God you don’t do it again.”

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

While the Bears praised Mitchell Trubisky’s operation of a controlled gameplan in his second NFL start, they’re not losing sight of the special kind of athleticism and playmaking ability the rookie quarterback possesses. Two plays in particular stand out — plays that led to anywhere from a five-to-10 point swing in the game. 

Trubisky’s 18-yard third down completion to Kendall Wright in overtime seems to looks better every time you watch it on film. Trubisky was pressured by two Baltimore Ravens pass rushers, but managed to wriggle free and slide to his right, only to find linebacker C.J. Mosley waiting in front of him. The blend of athleticism and aggressiveness Trubisky displayed in firing high over the middle toward Wright — who made a specular play of his own — is one of the many reasons why the Bears are so excited about him. 

“To be able to throw that ball with both hands in the air and changing your arm angle – that’s why you draft a kid second,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Because of things like that.”

But there was another instinctual, athletic play Trubisky made that was just as impressive, and just as important. Cody Whitehair’s snapping issues cropped up at the Bears’ 13-yard line, with the center sailing a snap over Trubisky’s head and toward the end zone. 

If Baltimore recovered that ball, it would’ve tied the game; had Trubisky simply fell on the ball, it very well could’ve led to a safety that would’ve brought the Ravens within five points about a minute after the Bears took a 17-3 lead. Instead, Trubisky picked up the ball, scrambled to his right and threw the ball away — one of six throwaways he had on Sunday. 

“(That) was a critical, critical play at that time,” Loggains said. 

This isn't to say that two plays — only one of which gained yards — are enough to say the Bears' offense is in a good place. It's still a group that necessitates a controlled gameplan, similar to the one they used with Mike Glennon. But the difference: Trubisky can make plays. 

Briefly, on Whitehair

Since we’re on the subject of another poor snap by Whitehair, here’s what Loggains had to say on that topic: 

“He’s gotten better. We still had one too many. The thing and point I want to make with Cody Whitehair is, obviously wants to talk about the snap, but you’re talking about two weeks in a row of completely dominating. We’re an outside zone team that ran 25 snaps of inside zone because of what they were playing. It changed our game plan and Cody’s a big part of that. The last two weeks we’ve been able to move those guys inside. He’s a really good football player. 

“We’re going to battle through these snap issues. We’re cutting them down. He’s more accurate. He did have the one that obviously is unacceptable and no one owns that more than Cody Whitehair does. But he is a really good football player and let’s not lose sight of the 79 snaps where he really helped the team run the football and you can’t do that without a Cody Whitehair at center.”

Loggains has a point here — if Whitehair were struggling in the run game, against the defensive looks the Ravens were showing, the Bears wouldn’t have been able to run the ball 50 times with the kind of success they had. But the poor snaps nonetheless are ugly and have to be eliminated — imagine the uproar over them if Trubisky didn’t make that play in Baltimore. The Bears' offense won't always be good enough to overcome those kind of self-inflicted mistakes. 

Loggains and coach John Fox have praised Whitehair’s attention to the problem, and as long as Hroniss Grasu is still limited with a hand injury, Whitehair will have some time to work through these issues. One final thought: Who would’ve expected, back in May, that Whitehair would have the problems with snaps, and not Trubisky?