Bears Draft Preview: Last year's top priority in solid shape

Bears Draft Preview: Last year's top priority in solid shape
April 30, 2014, 11:00 am
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CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin will be going position-by-position as the Bears approach the 2014 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need and what draft day could have in store. Next, he takes a look at offensive line.

Bears pre-draft situation

The offseason drumbeat of signings on defense overshadowed four significant moves to bolster the one most improved area through last season. Guard Matt Slauson was re-signed at the same time the Bears were doing new contracts with Jay Cutler and Tim Jennings, and later the Bears agreed with center Roberto Garza on a one-year deal, quite possibly his last at age 35.

Subsequent to that, a transition plan was put in place with the signing of Brian de la Puente, setting in place another sub-age-30 piece on a line that projects to be together for an extended time. Garza succeeded Olin Kreutz when Kreutz left the Bears for the Saints; de la Puente succeeded Kreutz when the latter retired mid-2011. De la Puente, like Slauson, comes initially with a one-year deal, but he and the Bears would like nothing better than to start next offseason with another O-line extension. And de la Puente’s career blossomed under Aaron Kromer in New Orleans.

Eben Britton re-signed to another one-year deal and gives the Bears veteran depth at multiple positions, possibly projecting as competition for Jordan Mills at right tackle, particularly with Mills coming off foot surgery.

[MORE: Bears Draft Preview: Open competition behind elite receivers]

Bears draft priority: low

General manager Phil Emery landed starters Mills and Kyle Long in last year’s draft after bringing in starters at left tackle (Jermon Bushrod) and left guard (Slauson) through free agency. The Bears liked what they saw of unheralded Taylor Boggs as a developmental center. James Brown lost the right guard job to Long and was inactive all 16 games, and tackles Rogers Gaines (practice squad) and Joe Long (53-man roster) were given in-season looks as well.

Keep an eye on...

— Jonotthan Harrison, Florida. Four-year SEC starter who could develop at guard.

— Weston Richburg, Colorado State. Durable developmental prospect with 49 straight starts.

— Matt Patchan, Boston College. Injury history might leave him on the board; good program.