Long, Mills give versatile look to 2013 OL draft class

Long, Mills give versatile look to 2013 OL draft class
May 12, 2013, 7:30 pm
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Offensive coordinator and line coach Aaron Kromer had fun with his rookie linemen this weekend. During one drill he was repeatedly demonstrating a two-handed kickout block technique in a way that delivered a hard hand punch that knocked his students sideways.

As he finished and headed back to his position behind the line, one of the young linemen gave him a two-handed shot of his own.

Insubordination? Not at all. Kromer was laughing, having told his group that he’d been hitting them enough so anybody who felt like it could give him a pop, too.

“We have a lot of fun out here, but it’s work,” said guard Kyle Long, the Bears’ No. 1 draft pick. “It’s really work. [The coaches] really understand how to put things into terms that we can translate that in ‘team’ periods and once we get to live football.”

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“Live” is still more than two months away, when training camp commences in late July. But the first small steps were taken this weekend as the Bears’ six draft choices, 10 undrafted rookie free agents, 10 players with some non-roster experience and 33 tryout hopefuls put in three days of work in the team’s first rookie minicamp.

For Long, it included switching from right guard to right tackle for a set of reps on Sunday, with rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Mills sliding from right tackle to right guard.

“It was a little different being out there at tackle,” Long said, “because I’ve been focusing on guards since USC, November 3, I’ve been doing guard, and then the transition to right guard this week. It’s exciting. It’s cool to be able to be called upon to say, ‘hey, you’re moving out to tackle this rep.’ We were just short on guys today a little bit so they needed some versatility. Jordan Mills went inside. That’s another guy that can move around a little bit. We’ve got a lot of those.”

The Bears got their first real looks at all of their draft choices this weekend, with more to come beginning this week with organized team activities, although without Long, who cannot work with his new team until his Oregon college class finishes final exams on June 14.

Mills rotated between right tackle and guard. Fine with him.

“Anywhere they need me,” Mills said. “Like I told Coach on draft day, if they need me at H-back or anywhere, I’ll do it.”

At 6-5, 316 pounds, Mills at H-back would represent a one-man jumbo package. Whether or not that comes to pass, Mills’ key to making the roster on game days will lie in his ability to play more than one position.

“I think it’s important,” Kromer said. “On game day you’re only going to dress seven linemen. So when you only dress seven linemen, they have to be multiple-position players and that’s what I’m doing. Jordan’s done a nice job for the first three days of minicamp.”