On Thursday, the Chicago Bears addressed their greatest need when drafting Wisconsin’s offensive lineman Gabe Carimi with their first pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Let me tell you why and how Carimi can upgrade one of the worst offensive lines in all of football.
By: Nick Grays
For those scouts out there who listed Carimi’s possible concerns as arrogant and injury-prone, you made a huge mistake in his evaluation. Carimi’s tenure as a Badger was nothing less than great, most evident from his Outland Trophy, an award given out to the best interior lineman in the country.
Carimi, a civil engineering graduate, is a smart kid who has never had any character issues at the University of Wisconsin and is merely a confident football player. As a consensus All-American, Gabe has let it be known that he strives to be the best lineman he can be, but his play has always backed up that notion.
The 6’7″, 314 pound lineman did a remarkable job of filling current Cleveland Brown and four-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas’ spot on the Badgers front-line. He’s also played well through many nagging injuries throughout his college career to prove that he’s not injury-prone.
How will all of this convert to the NFL and particularly in Chicago?
With either Frank Omiyale or J’Marcus Webb expected to take the left tackle spot, I would expect Carimi to move over to right tackle where he can avoid having to deal with super quick defensive ends on the left end.
Carimi should continue to be a beast in run-blocking where he specifically excelled in the Badgers system. Matt Forte will most likely love the guy because he always finishes strong in the running game.
A concern will rest with Cutler and Mike Martz who will need to find players to help pick up blitz packages. Carimi has always struggled at stopping the blitz because he can be a little slow laterally.
Either way, Carimi is a great pick for the Bears because he can help the running game become a more formidable option which will open up the pass for Cutler in Martz’ pass-happy offense.
For Badgers/Packers fans, it was quite the quandary to watch such a hard-working player end up with a hated rival.
Carimi grew up a huge Green Bay Packers fan in Wisconsin, but knows his dream of playing in the NFL trumps any kind of loyalty to a favorite team.
“I had a great feeling I would end up with the Bears,” Carimi said. “I can’t be happier.”
Do you think Carimi can help the Bears offensive line improve next season? Can Carimi have the kind of career that Joe Thomas is having in Cleveland? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior editor at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.Follow paulmbanks