The Chicago Bears drafted four offensive linemen in the 2022 NFL Draft. All four were selected on Day 3, but that doesn’t matter now that the draft is in the rear-view mirror. Each of this year’s draft picks has a chance to earn a significant role on offense regardless of draft pedigree.
The first day of Bears rookie minicamp kicked off Friday, and we learned a little bit about where the Bears envision each of their rookies lining up, at least initially. The most notable takeaway from this alignment is Zachary Thomas, the former San Diego State offensive tackle. The Bears selected Thomas in the sixth round and plugged him in at right guard to kick things off.
Veteran Dakota Dozier is the placeholder on the depth chart at right guard, but it’s highly unlikely he’ll open the 2022 season as the starter. Thomas is a legitimate contender for that job. The Bears playing him there on the first day of minicamp certainly helps his cause.
Here are Thomas’s strengths as noted by The Athletic’s Dane Brugler:
“Owns a broad waist, long arms and large hands … generates force in the run game with his hand timing and leg drive … his lock-on strength is persistent, keeping defenders from re-leveraging once he connects … comfortable as a climber and stays dialed in at the second level … uses short, controlled steps in pass protection with the body control to cut off pass rush angles … redirects well vs. inside moves … lower body bend to maintain low pad level at contact … peppers defenders with his reach to jolt at contact … versatile experience with double-digit starts at both tackle spots and functional time inside at guard.”
Brugler evaluated Thomas as a guard and ranked him 19th in this year’s class — he issued him a 6th-7th round grade. Spot on.
It’s also noteworthy that Braxton Jones lined up at left tackle. The fifth-round pick from Southern Utah has the physical profile of an NFL tackle and is expected to begin his career as a developmental backup. But there could be an opportunity for first-team reps if Larry Borom struggles.
If Jones, Thomas, or any of this year’s drafted rookies can fight their way into the starting lineup, it’ll be a boon for the Bears and General Manager Ryan Poles in his first draft on the job.