Looking at the Chicago Bears OL Drafting Under Lovie

During Lovie Smith's Chicago Bears tenure, their Offense was generally considered one of the worst in the League. There was one season with a 15th ranking, with the other 8 seasons ranking 23rd place or worse, much much worse (as in putrid). Offense under Lovie was generally as good as Tampa's 2013 season, and Chicago never had as many injuries as Tampa had.

2004 32nd 238 yd/gm total yardage (35 yds worse than 31st)
2005 29th
2006 15th
2007 27th
2008 26th
2009 23rd
2010 30th
2011 24th
2012 28th

Besides constantly changing Offensive Coordinators (5 in 9 seasons), one other theme emerged - poor Offensive Lines with little depth. And Lovie was most definitely involved in draft day decisions of players.

Chicago OL drafting under Lovie
2004 – ZERO OL Drafted
2005 – ZERO OL Drafted
2006 – 6th Rd G drafted (Practice squad)
2007 – 4th Rd G (3 Seasons 20 Games Started), 7th Rd T (cut during training camp)
2008 – 1st Rd T (3 Seasons as Starter then cut), 7th Rd G (IR never played), 7th Rd T (was on 5 teams in 2 seasons – never played)
2009 – 7th Rd TE/OL drafted (3 Seasons 28 Games Started)
2010 – 7th Rd OT drafted (3 Seasons 2 as Starter – Waived)
2011 – 1st Rd Tackle (2 Seasons – moved to Guard – traded to Tampa for 6th Rd pick)
2012 – ZERO OL Drafted

A total of 9 OL drafted in 9 years, 2 1st rounds, 1 4th round, 1 6th round, and 5 7th rounders. None of them lasting on the team more than 4 seasons. Despite poor offensive performance every season, Offensive Linemen were never a priority either in terms of quality or quantity to improve the offense. 1st round OL are supposed to be the surest thing in the draft, yet Chicago went 0-2 under Lovie. Gabe Carimi wasn't supposed to drop to #29. Did Chicago fail to do the due diligence that other teams obviously did?

Looking at the entire draft as a whole through those seasons

Year Tackles Guards Centers Total OL Per Team Avg
2004 26 8 9 43 1.34375
2005 26 15 8 49 1.53125
2006 22 20 9 51 1.59375
2007 22 12 7 41 1.28125
2008 27 7 6 40 1.25
2009 20 13 7 40 1.25
2010 23 9 6 38 1.1875
2011 22 13 6 41 1.28125
2012 19 21 4 44 1.375

The league average for all rounds over those years was 12 OL over that 9 year span. Chicago was 3 OL below that average. Given that Chicago was always one of the worst offenses, one would think they would be drafting more OL than league average instead of far less. Chicago didn't draft an OL that contributed in a game until their 4th draft under Lovie.

The record above is the most troubling aspect after the Zuttah trade to Baltimore for a 5th round pick in 2015. If Lovie had actually reflected on his Chicago tenure during the year off as he has claimed, one would expect him to over-collect as many quality linemen as possible to come out of training camp with the best performers. Instead the Guard options are a player who may not be able to come back from an injury+infection, last year's backup Guard, and a free agent signed from the Browns that prompted condolences from their fanbase.

Lovie has already stated he plans to carry only 7 lineman on the roster. That follows his standard razor-thin OLs in Chicago. By stinting on the OL depth, he can carry more defense and special teams players. That was his methodology in Chicago and the probable plan for Tampa.

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