Since 2010, the Bears have had 5 interior offensive linemen drafted into the NFL. They have included two centers and three guards, most recently Cyril Richardson in the 5th round. The Bears are starting to gain the reputation of being "Wide Receiver U", but they have only had four drafted in the same time frame, and that is if you include Josh Gordon. This position has been the most prolific for the Bears, and it profiles as one that will continue into future seasons and drafts.
CURRENT STARTERS – 7
With the loss of Cyril Richardson, the Bears interior offensive line is probably not going to be as strong as it was the last few years. They are replacing Richardson along with starting center Stefan Huber. The lone returning starter is Desmine Hilliard. Outside of him, the Bears will be breaking in new faces for the middle of their line.
In Huber's place is Kyle Fuller, the primary backup last year has looked good in spring practice and is at the top of the depth chart going into the fall. He has good size for the center position and graded out well last year when getting playing time. The new starter at left guard is a larger question mark, with some big answers.
The co-starters right now are Juniors LaQuan McGowan and Blake Muir. McGowan is just simply a mountain of a man, easily dwarfing the 385 pounds he is listed at. Reports show that he is trying to get down to 400 pounds to get in better shape for the season. With his incredible brute strength, and surprisingly quick feet, the big question about McGowan is simply his stamina.
Competing with McGowan is Blake Muir, the transfer from Hawaii that is probably best suited for a tackle position. However, with two returning starters on the outside, the Bears want to get Muir playing time. Muir has prototypical size for tackle (and will probably slide outside next season with Baker and maybe Drango both leaving), but if he is one of the Bears 5-best lineman, they will try and get him on the field.
POSITIONAL DEPTH - 8
|Interior Offensive Line Eligibility|
The Bears have some excellent depth all across the interior line. Hilliard is the only returning starter, but the Baylor coaching staff has built up an experienced unit. Backing up Hilliard is junior college transfer Jarell Broxton, one of the top prospects in the nation. He could stay in a backup role, or even compete for a starting spot at the left guard position. The player that loses the starting position battle at right guard will be a solid backup as well.
At the center position, the Bears have a junior college transfer from last year, Tyler Edwards, as the primary backup. He came to Baylor last year battling for a starting position, but has not been able to win the starting job. He is still battling, but had some injuries this spring that slowed him down. Blake Muir also got looks at center, but that might have been due more to injury. His younger brother Sean however, does project at the center position, but struggled with snaps and consistency during the spring.
CLASS BALANCE – 6
Simply put, the Bears have a lost class from 2013. Both high school lineman failed to qualify out of high school, so the Bears were left with just junior college transfer Tyler Edwards as a representative. Both Maurice Porter and Darius Moore had to go the junior college route, though Porter is once again committed to the Bears.
Baylor has just the 1 senior in Edwards to go along with 5 juniors. Behind them is just one sophomore and one redshirt freshman. They did get at least 2 high school recruits for the interior line in the last class, and have another one committed for 2015. With so many juniors though, expect the Bears to try and take another lineman in this class, and probably have a very large OL class in 2016.
NEXT YEAR – 8
Five of the size Bears on the two-deep roster should be back in 2015, with just Tyler Edwards graduating. All three starters should be back, at least somewhere on the offensive line. If the elder Muir has to slide out to tackle, the Bears should have enough options to be even better next year with another season of experience.
FUTURE YEARS – 3
The star and main driver of this grade right now is 4-star 2014 signee Blake Blackmar. He is the best interior lineman prospect to sign with the Bears during Art Briles tenure. With good development, the Clear Lake High School graduate is a multi-year starter for the Bears. They also have two projects that could develop very nicely in Devonte Jones and Sam Tecklenburg for the future as well.
With a power-running game based on out-powering the defense at the point of attack, the interior line is a key to the Bears offense that gets little credit. Just look at Cyril Richardson, moving from left tackle to left guard, to give the Bears more size and power in the middle of the line. Richardson was a good left tackle at the college level, even as just a redshirt freshman.
This position also gets more importance due to the center position, the main guy of the offensive line, who calls the protections and leads that group. The Bears have had some tremendous centers the past few years, but Kyle Fuller has the chance to be a multi-year starter, something the Bears haven't had in a while at center.
TOTAL – 36
While 2014 is a bit of a rebuilding year, it was bound to happen when Cyril Richardson finally ran out of eligibility. One of the best lineman in Big 12 history, he leaves a gaping hole on the left side for the Bears. They have some great options to replace him, but don't bet on the same kind of production or performance that Richardson delivered for 3 years at the position. The future though is bright for the interior offensive line, especially in 2015, with all but 1 player returning and some great young options getting another year of development.