The final position – guard or tackle – for Kyle Long may not be determined until pads come on in Bourbonnais. He is still working exclusively at right guard, the position at which he earned Pro Bowl honors in each of his first two NFL seasons, but positions are fluid until pads come on, particularly on the offensive line.
But the Bears’ selection of Hroniss Grasu, Long’s former teammate at Oregon, sets up perhaps the more intriguing position question, albeit at a position where casual observers can have difficulty accurately determining quality of play.
It also sets up a possible position battle reminiscent of an epic one for the Bears, one that was unpleasant for both competitors for reasons having nothing to do with any problems between them.
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Bears GM Ryan Pace said after the draft that Grasu can play center and guard. But Grasu’s best position is center and he is far closer to a fit there than at guard, based on the Denver Broncos template under John Fox and now-Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase. The Broncos utilize a zone-blocking scheme that requires mobile offensive linemen, particularly on the interior.
“I know we got Will Montgomery there,” Pace said. “But they’ll all be competing, all fighting for starting jobs.
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Montgomery anchored the Denver line at 304 pounds. He was flanked by two 320-pounders: Orlando Franklin and Manny Ramirez. Long played last year at 330 pounds but with an enviably low body fat percentage. He can play tackle but has voiced some feelings about wanting to stay at guard, and the chance to play alongside Grasu may strengthen that preference.
Jordan Mills, who struggled last season to the point of coaching weighing a shift of him to guard, is still the right tackle. But Denver lined up the 6-foot-7 Franklin at right tackle until last year, and he played at 330 pounds. The Bears thought enough of Tayo Fabuluje to use a sixth-round pick on the massive (6-7, 330-350 pounds) tackle and Mills will be pushed after two seasons starting alongside Long.