Draft experts continue to debate tackle class

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Where the highest rated offensive tackles in the 2011 draft class deserve to be chosen depends on which expert you talk to. ESPN’s Todd McShay said earlier this week that he didn’t think any of the four top-tier tackles — Anthony Castonzo, Tyron Smith, Gabe Carimi and Nate Solder — will be available when the Bears pick at No. 29.

NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt isn’t sure Castonzo or Carimi deserve to be Top 20 picks.

It’s possible they are both right, although Brandt’s assessment may offer more hope of one of the two players tumbling to the Bears, unlikely as that may be.

“Right now I’ve got Castonzo in my 11-20 category,” Brandt said. “He’s going to be a good football player. When you start for four years like he did at Boston College, that tells you something. He did a good job at left [tackle] at the Senior Bowl, but right now I’m not sure I don’t have him a little to high and he should be in the 21-30 category.”

What makes Brandt think he has overrated Castonzo?

“When I look at these guys, to be honest with you, there are a bunch of them that all look alike,” he said. “What you have to do is go back and look at certain traits or characteristics that lead to success at a position. As an example, he does have long arms. I’m not sure he has the best feet in the world. That concerns me just a little bit. If I’m going to draft a guy that high I have to expect him to play at left tackle. I can’t draft somebody in that 11-20 area and not expect them to play left tackle.

“It’s kind of like Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin. I think he’s a very, very good football player, but I don’t think he belongs in the 11-20 area because even though he thinks he can and he did play left tackle at Wisconsin, I don’t think he can do it in the National Football League.”

If Brandt is right, and neither Castonzo or Carimi can protect Jay Cutler’s blind side, it may behoove the Bears to take an interior lineman or the best defensive player available.

It’s possible the Bears could move mammoth 2010 seventh-round pick J’Marcus Webb from right to left tackle. Several coaches/scouts inside and outside of the Bears’ organization believe he has the capability at some point in his career, but asking him to do it in his second NFL season might be a stretch, especially if the lockout continues into training camp.

Frank Omiyale had his moments at left tackle — both good and bad. Omiyale, who played guard in 2009, spent training camp and the preseason playing at right tackle before switching to left early in a Week 2 win against the Cowboys. Omiyale reminds me of former San Francisco 49ers tackle Derrick Deese, who wasn’t a prototypical left tackle but somehow got the job done.

It’s also possible 2008 first-round pick Chris Williams could be an effective left tackle, although that ship has likely sailed after he struggled mightily at the position early last season.

Either way, filling that left tackle spot looks to be a challenge for general manager Jerry Angelo, regardless of how far Carimi and Castonzo fall.

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