Mills showed early he could handle starting role

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by short faced bear, Sep 14, 2013.

  1. short faced bear

    short faced bear Assistant Head Coach
    DBS Writer

    Mar 29, 2009
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    Bears were impressed with rookie right tackle during scouting process

    By Brad Biggs, Tribune reporter

    3:50 p.m. CDT, September 14, 2013

    The Bears didn't elevate Jordan Mills to the starting role at right tackle until after the first exhibition, but it was on the third day of training camp, the first in full pads, that Aaron Kromer figured Mills could handle it.

    "You could watch him in the first one-on-one drill and he did the same things he did in college," the offensive coordinator said. "I like long arms, heavy hands and anchor guys first. That is what he does. He has long arms (34 inches), he has good hands and when he puts his hands on you he can stop you. And his anchor is there. He can anchor a guy down when he is bull rushing.

    "He didn't let the fact he was here faze him. He went out and did the same thing. There were a couple of things that he needed tweaked in his technique and he worked on them. By no means is he a finished product, but he is good enough to start."

    Mills did well in the Week 1 victory over the Bengals and is just one reason why there is optimism about the offensive line. What Kromer saw when he first started exploring Mills early in the offseason was a player the Bears had done a lot of work scouting.

    It seemed like the team sent the entire scouting department to the Louisiana Tech campus in Ruston last fall to evaluate Mills. But only general manager Phil Emery and scouts Ted Monago and Mark Sadowski made it there. Mills saw them in the hallways of the school's facility the week after the 59-57 loss to Texas A&M in mid-October and Bulldogs offensive line coach Pete Perot, who doubled as the school's liaison for NFL teams, said they had a strong presence.

    But it took some real projection to select Mills in the draft. In Sonny Dykes' spread offense, the linemen didn't get a three-point stance. But NFL clubs liked the high tempo of play. Louisiana Tech ran 101 offensive plays in a loss to Texas A&M and averaged 87.8 snaps per game last season. There was athletic upside to Mills and evident raw power. Perot passed along information on Mills' work ethic, but scouts didn't see him bend or have to anchor. The sets he used were completely different than what the Bears are doing.

    But at the Senior Bowl, Mills not only played inside but he showed he could play right guard and had the flexibility in his waist and his knees to make the transition to the next level.

    It's what he has done since that allowed him to win a starting role as a rookie.

    "He is able to take technique, footwork or whatever from the classroom to the field and not a lot of guys can do that," center Roberto Garza said. "That's where the problem can be for young players. He knows what to do and he doesn't get rattled."

    Numbers game: Starting rookie linemen

    Of the 40 offensive linemen selected in the April draft, 11 were Week 1 starters and the Bears were the only team with two — Mills and right guard Kyle Long. Mills was the lowest-drafted of the group, the 163rd overall selection, and one of only three who was not selected in the first round. The other two are both in the NFC North.

    The Packers started David Bakhtiari, a fourth-round pick from Colorado, at left tackle and the Lions started Larry Warford, a third-round pick from Kentucky, at right guard.

    Six are right tackles, three right guards, one a left tackle and one a center. It's possible three of the right tackles could be moved to left tackle — the Chiefs' Eric Fisher, the Jaguars' Luke Joeckel and the Eagles' Lane Johnson.

    Front-office chess: Pursuit of Loadholt

    Before the Bears signed left tackle Jermon Bushrod to anchor the revamped offensive line, they strongly pursued Phil Loadholt, whom the Vikings wanted to re-sign at about $5 million per year. The Bears' offer reached about $6 million annually before Loadholt, a big part of Adrian Peterson's 2,097-yard season in 2012, returned to Minnesota on a $25 million, four-year deal that included a $7 million signing bonus.

    Loadholt is now the third-highest paid right tackle in the league behind the Colts' Gosder Cherilus ($34 million, five years) and the 49ers' Anthony Davis ($37 million, five years).

    The Bears could not have afforded Loadholt, Bushrod and tight end Martellus Bennett with their salary-cap constraints and probably would not have signed two linemen. They needed to add a tackle in free agency to give them confidence one side of the line could be secured without needing help.,0,7114504.story
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  2. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    SuperFan Member of the Month DBS Writer

    May 21, 2012
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    You gotta feel good about that ^^^^^

    It wasn't an accident that the Bears hit a home run here, with a stud in the 5th round of the draft. They were all over this.

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