Tyler Eifert was there for the taking, but you can’t blame Phil Emery for going for an interior lineman with his 20th overall selection. Kyle Long (University of Oregon) comes with royal NFL bloodlines that could have been a contributing factor behind the pick. While Oregon is an FBS powerhouse, it’s not known for producing OL like a Big 10 school. However Kyle Long is versatile and was a multi-sport star athlete in high school, which ironically got him drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 23rd round of the 2008 MLB draft upon his graduation from High School.
While Eifert could’ve been selected with the pick, there’s no doubt that Jay Cutler’s health and safety are the paramount concerns of the new regime at Halas Hall. The ability to spread the field and move the ball vertically is only possible if Cutler is able to stand in the pocket. The Bears have clearly addressed the need for beefing up the offensive front this offseason. Getting a player like Long allows for pressure to be taken off other players at that position. The free-agency addition of Bushrod was the first indication that the Bears were committed to redeveloping what has quite possibly been the worst offensive line in football over the last couple of years. While it’s known that the Bears need to add more weapons on the outside – and specifically at the TE position – there’s no reason to think that the next picks won’t address this issue. The Bears have definitely gone with the safe pick in Long, and while Eifert might turn out to be Gronkowski or Graham, there are no guarantees. The only rush to judgment over Eifert was that he is a local product who by attending Notre Dame made him an potentially marketable figure in Chicago.
If Kyle Long turns out to be a perennial pro bowler for the next 8-10 years then no one will care how good Tyler Eifert is in Cincinnati. The comparisons will always be made. One has to be happy with the pick based on the eye test of last year and the direction the team has been trying to go since the start of free agency.