Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Chicago needs help up front to protect Jay Cutler. Will a good tackle prospect fall to them on draft day?
Jay Cutler has suffered a number of concussions during his career, and it might finally be time for the Chicago Bears to find a suitable left tackle to protect his head and the rest of the body. Cutler was sacked 38 times in 15 games in 2012, which is at least an improvement from the 52 times he was sacked in 2010, but still has room for improvement. Either way, Chicago was 28th in total offense in 2012 and needs to find help on the offensive side of the ball.
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One such possibility is Lane Johnson, LT out of Oklahoma. Rob Rang of CBS Sports projects Johnson to the Bears at pick 20 in his latest mock draft:
Johnson, a former quarterback, tight end and defensive lineman at the junior college level, has developed into a quality tackle over the past two seasons with the Sooners and possesses the athletic upside to eventually be the top flight NFL left tackle Jay Cutler so desperately needs
In addition to protecting Cutler, a new tackle could help open up bigger lanes for Matt Forte and give Cutler more time to throw in the pocket. It too often feels like Cutler is under pressure less than a second after the ball is snapped, which makes it even more difficult to move the ball when Brandon Marshall is the only great receiving option on the team.
There are several good tackle prospects in the draft, but are there enough to ensure that the Bears can find a franchise tackle that late in the first round? They might need to move up.