The Chicago Bears offensive line approach has changed drastically under Juan Castillo, as we’ve seen the team go from smaller linemen to a bunch of nasty motherfuckers.
That line, of course, comes from 2021 second-round pick Teven Jenkins, who described himself as a “tough, physical, nasty motherfucker” when meeting the media before the draft. (Picking Jenkins is just one example of the Bears identifying a need to add toughness up front.)
Even Ryan Pace’s best offensive line pick, Cody Whitehair, entered the NFL as a player who needed to get stronger. As good as Whitehair was at Kansas State, there was some questioning if he had the strength to bang with the big guys in the NFL. The same is true for James Daniels, an otherwise good player, but can’t get push against strong defensive lines.
What happened to the Bears against the Indianapolis Colts last year has happened far too many times. They don’t even have a chance to run the ball because they aren’t physical enough.
Castillo is trying to change that.
Picks like Whitehair, Daniels and Hroniss Grasu came under different offensive line coaches. Whether it was Dave Magazu, Jeremiah Washburn or Harry Hiestand, the Bears just didn’t value physicality upfront. They have drafted four offensive linemen under Castillo and at least three of the four have the word “mauler” in their scouting report.
The only exception might be Arlington Hambright, though even he wasn’t seen as a finesse player. Pig Simmons’ name tells you the story, Larry Borom is described as a “downhill, phone-booth blocker” and Jenkins is on the record. They’re not just big. They are athletes. The Bears had previously drafted raw big guys like Jordan Morgan and Tayo Fabuluje — but neither had the athleticism to hold up.
Hambright had a Relative Athletic Score of 9.72 — including a 4.95 40-time at 307 pounds, Borom scored an 8.65 and Jenkins came in with a 9.74. Performances for Simmons aren’t readily available, but for comparison sake, Faboluje scored a 3.17 and Morgan a 2.77.
The only other lineman they’ve drafted who has scored above a 9.0 was James Daniels (9.27) while Whitehair (8.07) and Grasu (8.0) came in much lower.
The approach isn’t limited to the draft. Germaine Ifedi is a big, physical athlete, as is Elijah Wilkinson. Last week Castillo said Ifedi is up to 345 pounds, Wilkinson is listed at 329. Castillo said he wants Borom to get up to 334 pounds.
When Castillo arrived he made it clear that he wants big, physical athletes and he’ll teach them the rest. Time will tell if it works, but being bigger and more athletic seems like a good start.