Chicago Bears: Where do the young offensive linemen go after two signings?

Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Before the start of training camp, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles signed two veteran offensive linemen. Where do those signings leave the younger linemen?

Well, training camp has arrived for the Chicago Bears. They started their practices on a quest to determine the strongest roster possible to start the regular season.

We now get to see some of the position battles and how the players look up close and personal.

Despite the long break between the OTAs and the start of training camp, general manager Ryan Poles hasn’t stood pat. The Bears have a lot of holes to fill. Looking at what he did this offseason, Poles knew that he needed to bring more players in to help.

Two weeks ago, Poles went out and added more competition at the wide receivers unit. Besides Darnell Mooney (and possibly Byron Pringle) there were only questions. Poles decided to make a low-risk, high-reward trade. He acquired N’Keal Harry from the New England Patriots for a 2024 seventh-round pick. Harry only makes about $1.8 million this season. If he doesn’t make the team, he gets only about $674,000.

Perhaps a change of scenery could help Harry, who was a first-round pick.

Poles wasn’t finished yet, however. In the span of 24 hours, he totally reshaped the offensive line. He first signed guard Michael Schofield. The right guard position had a gaping hole with the exit of James Daniels.

Sam Mustipher, who struggled mightily at center last season, was the odds-on favorite to win the job. He was supposed to battle Julie’n Davenport for the spot.

Now, though, Schofield is the favorite to win that job…maybe. More on that later.

The bookend tackle jobs were of great concern, especially on the left side. That side is quarterback Justin Fields’ blindside so keeping him upright is the priority for this season. Second-year man Teven Jenkins and rookie Braxton Jones were supposed to battle for that job.

Jenkins was last year’s second-round pick. The previous regime had high hopes for him. However, Poles and new head coach Matt Eberflus haven’t exactly been impressed with Jenkins.

In fact, they’ve moved him around to see where he could fit. He moved over to right tackle. That apparently did not work so he ended up practicing with the backups.

Poles did not feel comfortable having a rookie and a disappointing second-year player battling to be Fields’ primary protector. As a result, he went out and signed Riley Reiff.

Reiff has been a solid offensive lineman throughout his 10-year career. He has 147 career games under his belt. Yes, his best days might be behind him but he is still a good player and a definite upgrade for the Bears.

Last season, he ranked about middle of the road, but that was at right tackle, a position in which he’s only played in 26 games.

The Chicago Bears also have Larry Borom. He is also in his second season. He played some time on both tackle sides. He spent some time during offseason workouts at left tackle but he will primarily be on the right side.

So what happens to the young linemen with the new veterans taking over? Reiff is getting paid starter’s money (one year, up to $12.5 million) so he’ll be at left tackle. Fields can feel comfortable knowing he has a dependable veteran looking out for his blindside.

What now happens with Jones, Jenkins, and Borom? Jones, the Bears’ fifth-round pick this year, has really impressed the coaches during offseason work. He impressed them enough to be considered an option to start.

The likely scenario is that he ends up being Reiff’s backup at left tackle or a swing tackle. With Reiff on just a one-year deal, Jones is probably the heir-apparent at left tackle.

That leaves Jenkins and Borom. Again, the coaches and Poles haven’t really been impressed with Jenkins. He’ll get his opportunity, however. He’ll likely battle Borom for the starting right tackle.

Remember, though, that while Jenkins hasn’t been a favorite, the case is different for Borom. The team feels he could be a good right tackle. He should be the favorite for that job.

Saying that, Jenkins is in limbo. He’s swimming against the current at the moment. It would take a lot for him to win a starting job.

Jenkins’ best bet to start is at guard. There are rumors that the Chicago Bears could finally try him there. That is something that should have been considered a while ago.

Coming out of college, many scouts considered him more of a guard prospect than a tackle. They noted his short arms and slow footwork. Quick pass rushers would give him trouble.

Jenkins is a big and powerful player. He has some athleticism but isn’t elite. He is a mauler in the run game. In my opinion, he’d make a great guard. In fact, he could be as good, if not better, than Kyle Long was when he occupied the right guard position.

He could open gashing holes for the running backs and can be an impenetrable wall in traffic.

Players holding out/in for new contracts. dark. Next

Schofield is a seven-year veteran with zero guaranteed money. Jenkins is a second-round pick still on his rookie deal. He, not Schofield, should be discussed in the Chicago Bears’ future. Hopefully, he gets his opportunity to thrive at guard.